Thursday, March 20, 2008


I'm taking the laptop off the table, I'm putting it on my lap, I'm writing a personal blog.
I'm also cold and the heat from the laptop feels nice on my legs.

I came here to tell stories of poverty. So I climbed over piles of rubble and into uncomfortable places. I walked into dirty, small, dark rooms. I took the pictures people at home expected me to take.

But yesterday I heard feet step softly on clean floors, voices echo off white walls, silverware scrape against plates full of food. The place was nice(r). I walked the hallways of Kosovo's House for the Aged Persons and Without Family Solicitude, an institution for people who have no one to care for them.

Inside one room sat two men who say they have nothing in common. One never had children. His wife is dead, he thinks he has some cousins alive somewhere and unlike most Kosovars, he doesn't like coffee. The other has many children, but none who care enough to take care of him. He has a shelf full of pictures and a table with everything he needs to make coffee, telling me he can't live a day without it. Though they have nothing in common, they each consider the other a brother. Here, life is OK.

I followed the men to lunch and was surprised to hear a resident yell something at me in English. She called me to her table to take a photo of her. She said she learned some English from watching TV. After lunch, I went to her room.

Her name is Biba, and she's lived in the home since she was born, 54 years ago. Her parents left her at the hosptial, so she grew up in a home of old people, many of them crazy. "I was the only child here,"she said. "I didn't have anybody. I didn't have hope for living." For Biba, life in the home was not OK.

I listened to more sad stories. Biba said she's tried to kill herself many times, but now she sees that God didn't want her to die. She showed me pictures of her friends from Pristina's protestant church that came to visit her. I don't know what Biba believes, but I wondered if one day her heart claimed the promise that God makes a home for the lonely.

Some homes have walls that are crumbling. Others have walls that are strong. So are the walls of our hearts. Though poverty assigns one a life of hunger, discomfort and immobility, loneliess is a tide that carries a different kind of hunger.

I'm always thinking of photos, stories, this project. I wanted to come home with good pictures, not sappy words about how a trip changed my life. But when I left the home yesterday, I told each person I would remember them and think of them. As the Lord allows me to, I will. With every experience we can gain understanding if we want it. This world is messed up. And on this morning, Good Friday morning, I think of the many injustices in this world.
But Biba is no longer angry at life's injustices. If she was, she would try to kill herself again.
Instead, she died to something else.


1 comment:

Jerry Renaud said...


Pretty incredible stuff. Your story makes me sad especially for Biba. I wish she could have a better life.