This is how it happens in the movies. You go to find a venue and you think that it might be possible to hold a class there, but only if there were carpet underfoot and a heater (and then Rob points out that the ventilation doesn’t seem great and with a heater there’d be a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning). You get home and your friend Louise comes on skype and says ‘we’ve been clearing out, and we have some stuff which I guess might be useful for your teaching space. Would you be able to use a rug and a heater? We even have a carbon monoxide detector – is that any good to you?’ It’s a little freaky.
Joanna gets in touch and says ‘I have some play resources which are brand new and might be useful for the activities you’re organising.’ When she brings them over and we look at the shiny plastic and the tempting toys, we realise we’re going to need proper storage to keep them safe and clean: we’re going to need lots of boxes. Twelve hours later there’s an email from Judith in the inbox – ‘we’ve just moved to Pristina and have a load of boxes to spare. Could you use them?’.
But of course the biggest need is people power. I speak Albanian – I’ve taught and trained and translated Albanian – but it’s not the same as having a native Albanian speaker to work with the children. If only we could find a native Albanian-speaker to work with me on the teaching… And then there’s a phone call: Hope Devasher says that her Foundation would be able to release their wonderful Vlora to work with me and the kids for two hours a day.
It’s almost scary when you get the things you wish for. Maybe I should be thinking bigger – world peace? Johnny Depp? But no, I have no time for Johnny right now… we have a classroom to equip.
Gjelane’s story is now told in a book published as The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2015) and available on Amazon