This is a story written by my mother-in-law, who grew up in Albania and in this story tells about a communist work party she was a part of during the early eighties.

My name is Engjellushe, I was born in and grew up in Albania. I am 46 years old, my life was hard, in general it was very difficult for everyone who lived in Albania at the time. Our way of life was poverty-driven, we lived without basic needs, and above all, we had to face the challenges of communism. We didn’t have the right to live freely or to even ask for our rights. There was a dictatorship, or in other words I could say that everything was prohibited. They had censored everything from us, we didn’t know how the rest of the world lived. They had closed us into a small space, in a small country where any outside influence was forbidden. We worked for the government and what they gave us was a piece of bread. The only good thing was that health care and education were completely free. In the end, we lived ethically and proud, because we had discipline, those of us who grew up during that time still retain those qualities. Despite everything I went through, I succeeded because I had two parents who had dignity, who showed us how to take the right path, and who showed us how to get by in such a life. Our family’s way of life, we received love and they gave us strength and courage.

Lukhove Hillside

I remember when I was 18 and I had finished high school. Every year the town board would get everyone together and ask them about the problems and issues that they had. As with other years they decided to gather teams to go to Lukove and do plantings of fruit and olive trees, and to care for those that had been planted the previous years so that the orchards would grow larger every year. This was the project that I was chosen to participate in. There were four of us from my village, Dukai, while Tepelen, Permeti, and Vlore each sent forty of their citizens for the work project. We slept there together, there were buildings with two floors – the boys on the bottom floor, with the girls on the top floor. We stayed there for one month, it was in December. It was very cold but we woke up at 7 am in the morning, to get ready for work. First we went to a big restaurant in order to eat our breakfast, and after to go to work from 8 am until 3 in the afternoon. We planted lemon, olive, and orange trees. We hoed the ground, we planted trees, we pruned trees, and we watered all the orchards. We did everything we could to protect and nourish the trees. We also worked to take care of the surrounding area, picking up trash and in general making everything nice.After we finished our work we would go to our rooms to wash up and get dressed and to go to the restaurant in order to eat. First they would do the roll call to make sure everyone was there. Then they would give out awards to reward those had worked the hardest. Then we would eat our dinner.

In the evenings we walked around, we danced, we sang, nice songs – everything was scheduled and had time limits. That experience was a good one, we respected each other, we didn’t trick each other, we watched out for each other like brothers and sisters. It was pleasant because we were all the same, there weren’t rich and poor people, in difficult times we helped one another. Groups like that went all over Albania where there was need.

Despite everything, Albania is a country rich in resources and natural beauty, with virgin coastlines, ancient castles, Illyrian ruins, and clear water. Over the years, many things have changed and Albania has recognized the need for tourism and the government has helped to pave the roads. Also there are many nice restaurants and cafes, hotels and clubs, all of good quality. Foreign and local investors have turned their intention to housing and accommodation infrastructure, especially in touristic locations by the sea. Compared to previous years, the economy and political situation is stable. Albania is now part of NATO and in the coming years will join the EU, which will help bring attention to this often overlooked country. An advantage in terms of tourism over other countries is that in Albania the prices are among the lowest in Europe, a visitor can truly get their money’s worth. In coastal Albania, tourists will discover ancient towns which are comparable to other beautiful ancient towns in other parts of the world, yet are still somewhat untouched due to Albania’s communist past.


2 Responses to “A Trip to Lukhove During the Days of Albanian Communism”

  1. Angeliki says:

    Einai poly oreo synxaritirja

  2. Angelo Fiorito says:

    Just like your mother in law had no idea of what was going on in the rest of the world, we who live in the rest of the world had no idea of what was going on in Albania; we knew it existed but that’s it. We were as curious as you were. Your blog helps me understand what I will be visiting in late Spring of 2015. Your mother in law’s recollections appear both honest and a bit nostalgic for the not so good old days that in hardship created a bond. Thank you and thank her.

    Warmest Regards,
    Angelo & Judy Fiorito (65 and 60 respectively)

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