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Undoubtedly the emigrants were the curse of the country.
There were whole villages of whom the male inhabitants were either in America or had been in America and wished they could go there. These emigrants deadened the country, they dreamed of vast enterprise, they clamoured for enlightenment, for advance, yet in reality, all they clamoured for was the right to earn money in large sums.”
Page 67 – the authors surprise that now they had fought to get independence, so many seemed to want to live in the USA.
The doctor had written a long poem in Albanian about those that had emigrated.
He depicts in moving rhyme the young man saying adieu to his mother, to his fiancé. His departure to the land of gold, the emigrants continual deferring to come home – a little more money, a little more money, a few dollars yet; at last the mother dies. Even this does not tempt the young man back, and when he does return, he finds his fiancé worn out with waiting on her death bed. And so the good doctor’s muse leaves the fellow with money in his pocket indeed, but with all his dreams sacrificed to the now useless dross. The good doctor exclaims “Ah gold, gold. What sins are committed in thy name.”
Interesting thoughts…I wonder what their view would be now. Especially as many families now only can afford to live with some of the “gold” sent back from family members living and working abroad.
It’s a tough one…I would far rather see the Albanians staying in Albania, but with unemployment so high (estimated around 20% in Shkoder…I imagine it would be something similar, if not higher through the country.) you can understand why people are leaving to find work elsewhere.
What I am really worried about, is that due to lack of opportunities the “best” and the “intellectuals” will leave to find suitable work elsewhere, rather than working to improve Albania…we will be left with workers and political leaders who are just not up to the task.
Edith Durham – there are some interesting comments here on Edith Durham, whose travels were only a few years earlier in this very region.
“Aha, that was indeed a woman.” Cried Neij Miraka, the man in the white goatskin. “She went about in man’s clothes, and I tell you that she was here with us, and over the mountains too, for fourteen days, before I as much as suspected her sex.”
And yet in spite of the self-sacrificing work that she has done for the Albanians, Miss Durham is being rapidly forgotten. All the priests that we met insisted upon one thing, that the Albanian peasant does not feel gratitude, and such gratitude is nowhere more exemplified than in this instance. We often had great difficulty in extracting memories of her from the very places that must have known her best.”