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HNGR in the Balkans: NEHEMIA Foundation, Albania

The NEHEMIA Foundation in Albania is a well-run organization focusing on education, community and health development, and spiritual renewal in a country that is recovering from 40 years of strictly enforced communist atheism. NEHEMIA stands out as a hopeful, forward-oriented organization with a vision for social transformation through strengthening Albanian leadership and values. For instance, they recently inaugurated a university whose first degree is in socially conscious business administration. When I asked my host from NEHEMIA about the fall of communism and her experience of it, she contrasted two narratives: the official communist narrative that portrayed little Albania as a beacon of light to the world versus her Christian narrative that opened up new and fresh interpretations of her role as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God in the world. For instance, Albanians take pride in their unique language and their levels of education among women, two victories claimed by the communist regime. However, she said, the untold story is that it was Christians who first legitimated Albanian language in schools and educated women as an outgrowth of their faithfulness to God’s transformative work in the world. This happened long before the era of communism.

*photo taken by Ryan Juskus
Lake Ohrid, Albania