“Before I would not spend a lot of time with my spouse and children. I would make all the decisions," states Bledar from Librazhd, as he recounts his family's journey and the major change he has experienced over the past three years.
Bledar, Antoneta, and their three children Klevisa, Klejdi, and Amar live in a small village, where opportunities are scarce. The 40-year-old man works in the military, whereas Antoneta, 38 explains how she has not been able to find a job. The family owns a small plot and she has mainly been occupying herself with agriculture and farming. She currently dedicates most of her time to Amar who is only six months old. We talked closely with them.
At noon, we knocked on their door. Bledar welcomed us and insisted that we entered the house. It was filled with love and warmth. Antoneta is restless. While talking with us, she hurries to treat us with coffee, water, and sweets. Outside is rather cold, but we can hardly feel it. The woodstove and their kind welcome warm our hearts.
Antoneta and Bledar have been married for 17 years. Over the years they have faced numerous challenges, but today they openly manifest their love and care for each other. Oftentimes, the lady of the house would feel left out and unheard regarding the decisions made by Bledar. Her role was deemed secondary since the mentality of the region recognises only the husband's decisive authority.
"The training has helped us immensely. I now feel greater love for my family. I can freely communicate as a couple. I spend more time with Antoneta, as well as the children. I talk with them about different topics. Our purpose is the happiness of the whole family. We now take the decisions together," Bledar states, who together with Antoneta first joined World Vision in 2019.
They became part of the three-day training programme "Celebrating Families". Through these trainings, family members are supported to build positive relationships with each other. This was Antoneta and Bledar's first step towards a more open communication and reflection process.
"During all these meetings, we have acquired new knowledge. We have met with other couples and families. We have risen above prejudice and the mentality of the region. I love Antoneta. Every week I buy chocolates for her, the children, and my mother," Bledar states in a soft and sweet manner unusual for a military man.
Antoneta is loving, careful, attentive, and welcoming. Bledar and their three children are "the apple of her eyes".
"At first I would not often communicate with Bledar and the children," Antoneta reveals. She shares that their relationship as a couple was cold, whereas the children's opinion was never taken into account.
"Month after month we have strengthened the relationship within our family. Both as a couple and with the children. Family is the most important thing. Now we are positive towards the children, we keep them closer and talk with them. I am more open with my husband. We talk about everything. We respect each other and we want to pass these values on to our children," Antoneta states.
Although they were skeptical at first, Bledar and Antoneta say that the engagement with "Positive Parenting", "Celebrating Families" and " Stay at Home, Family Challenge" programmes has helped them strengthen their relationship as a couple, as well as learn how to be more caring towards their children. Today they spend more time together, talk about different topics and forgive each other.
"Love, appreciate and communicate with each other. Spend more time together. Talk about anything and include the children," they conclude their story, with an encouraging message for all couples and families.
In Mother Teresa's famous words: If you want to change the world, go home and love your family! Everything begins with the love of family and of each other.