By KJ DELL'ANTONIA
Earlier this month, I asked readers to share stories of charities that had touched and inspired their families and sparked an urge to give in their children. As we head through what’s often a week of charitable giving for many and into 2014, we’ll post some of those stories here.
by Anne F. Cunningham
I am an American living in Tirana, Albania. I am writing about an American 501(c)(3) charity that has carved out a tiny but incandescent presence in this small, impoverished, easy-to-overlook country, and has involved our entire family in surprising ways.
Our family is posted to Tirana, where my husband is the United States ambassador.
Last year when our daughter was 5, I took her to visit the Angel’s Cradle, a nursery run by the Organization to Support Albania’s Abandoned Babies (OSAAB). The nursery is a clean, light-filled, quiet room in Tirana’s maternity hospital. There are about 12 cribs, each containing a baby (from newborn to several months old), and one playpen, occupied by a now-toddler with Down syndrome.
This is a place where women may safely abandon their newborn children. Women come from far-distant villages and towns to do just this: give birth at this hospital so that the child can be left in this nursery. There are many sad and terrible stories behind these births. Albania is only now emerging from a long isolation from the world, and it grapples with domestic violence, child exploitation and many other heavy issues. If OSAAB did not exist, babies would be left in market stalls, sidewalks and trash bins. And they still are, but in fewer numbers. When they are found, many are brought to OSAAB’s Angel’s Cradle. ...more