Overcoming fear for life

Summer camps help kids overcome fears and obstacles they face in life

At home, Xhenifer hardly smiles - but here at camp she is blooming

For many children growing up in poverty in Albania, family life is all about survival.

Eight-year-old Xhenifer lives with her parents and siblings in a remote village in northwest Albania. When Xhenifer’s father can’t find work locally, he travels to Montenegro, which borders northwest Albania. Here, Albanians fill jobs shunned by local workers because of the low wages, hardship, and poor living conditions.

Seasonal work in Montenegro is not only tough on fathers like Fatmir. It’s also tough on their children and wives when they’re gone for months, and even more stress is placed on a family that is already struggling. Fatmir’s wife, Irena, must manage the household and four children in poverty, not always able to provide them with everything they need.

I'm scared of the dark, and Joel always scares me, to tease me...”

Xhenifer and her brother Joel play at campXhenifer and her brother Joel play at camp

Xhenifer and her family have recently been enrolled on Mission Without Borders’ family sponsorship program – and one of the wonderful ways that MWB has already blessed the family is through a summer camp: a fun-filled seaside holiday for Xhenifer, her 10-year- old sister Xhesika, and younger brother Joel.

“At home, Xhenifer hardly smiles or speaks – but here at camp she is blooming,” said Blerina. She is the family coordinator who provides ongoing support to Xhenifer’s family – and she attended the summer camp too.

Kids get to be with friends and summer camp
Hanging out with friends, and meeting new ones is a highlight of summer camp

Kids playing games at summer camp
Summer camp gives kids a chance to play games and unwind with friends in a safe space

Over the first few days of summer camp, as Blerina chatted with Xhenifer, the little girl told her about her biggest fear.

“I’m scared of the dark and Joel always scares me, to tease me,” she said.

Blerina said, “Xhenifer’s mother hasn’t told me about her fear. Maybe she isn’t aware of it. Most of the parents in our community are focused only on feeding their children and they don’t have the time to listen and understand their kids. It’s difficult for them to meet any other needs or responsibilities they might have towards their children because of all the other struggles they’re facing.”

Now that Blerina knows about Xhenifer’s fear, it’s easier for her to support her. The camp’s atmosphere, the worship and the face-to-face talks are helping Xhenifer’s fears to die down and she has been feeling more at peace.

Xhenifer told Blerina, “At camp, every day before breakfast we do gymnastics. Another thing I like at the camp is the beach. I also love the food – it’s very tasty and there are so many different things to eat. Wow, there are just so many things I’m learning here. I’m sleeping better, too.

Xhenifer’s little brother, seven-year-old Joel, misses his father a lot when he’s away and he’s already plotting how to make everything better, not only for himself but for his friends.

“You know what?” Joel said. “I’m going to be a businessman when I grow up. First, I’m going to work as a waiter in a bar, and when I earn some money, I’ll open a small shop to sell everything that people need. After that I’ll open a bigger one, and then I’ll build a factory."

"My friends’ dads will work there, and they’ll no longer have to go beyond the border to find work, leaving their kids alone.”

“When kids have hardship early in life, it is such a strong predictor of early transitions to adult responsibility. They haven’t had that period of freedom from responsibility,” Blerina said, explaining why the fun and care that summer camp offers are so important.

She added, “When we come back home, I’ll continue to visit the families and be in contact with these children. I’ll support Xhenifer with her fear of the dark, by talking to her mother and helping the little girl to cope with it.”

Long after summer is over, many of them will trace back to summer camp the wonderful changes that have made all the difference to their peace of mind, their well-being, their knowledge of God’s love.

Summer camps have a lasting impact on children, creating the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe place. Help send more kids in need to camp and create life-long memories with a gift today.
This was the first year at camp for kids from Shkodra in Albania
This was the first year at camp for kids from Shkodra in Albania
Ionut and his sisters in their home in Romania
Bible verses hang on the wall of Todor's salon for all to see




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