Dear Friends. A few days ago, strong spring breezes blew a few sparks from a fire into the house of Pavlin Polia in Theth. It is chillingly easy to image the small quiet minutes, seconds, that rapidly turned into the conflagration that destroyed not only his 300 year old house, not only everything he and his family own, not only leaving him, his wife, and their two small children (aged 5 and 3 years old) homeless – well, as homeless as any Albanian can be, but also robbed Albanian Mountain Tourism of one of our most successful and important guesthouses. Pavlin and his family are exactly the sort of people you dream of having develop mountain tourism: young, educated, intelligent – after beginning successful lives, they chose to return to Theth, and invest their passion in growing a business based around their old family home. Pavlin has long been one of the most active members of the Theth community in environmental issues, working with a number of foreign NGOS to develop hiking trails and protect and strength Theth as a National Park. The idea of his family not being there anymore is horrible, and frankly unacceptable. Right now everyone is running around being shocked. Aida Gjecaj tells me she was on the phone with her father as he helped try to carry things from the burning house, but she could barely understand him as he was sobbing so hard.
Can we all think together how to help the Polias in the upcoming season? We hope to have some practical suggestions soon. For now, donations can be made through this ‘fundly’: https://fundly.com/pavlin-polia-guesthouse-reconstruction. Although I suspect $3,000 will not be sufficient to rebuild the house, it is at least a beginning . . . .
We hope to soon have a practical list of more concrete help that people can do.