The countryside is tough. That’s why I told the girls, study, run away, even out of the country. Just don’t get married in the village. Because what we have brought to light, we are getting tired at work and we have nothing on the line, we will not even have a pension because we do not fulfill the years of work.
Mornings are very different in the village. They are also earlier. As soon as the first rays of the sun come out, Burbuqja is in the backyard feeding the chickens. Some of them are sea chickens.
The difficulties of living in the southern villages are the same as in the past decades, in most of them there is no water supply network, families are still supplied with water from wells. But they are already facing the labor shortage. Burbuqe Myrtaj, says that the village of Trevllazer is more focused on fruit growing than on breeding, apart from chickens, she also has a cow, while the other cattle were forced to be removed because it is not possible to keep them. Because you can’t find a shepherd to graze or care for them in the mountains.
“The young people have fled the village. Although Trevllazeri is a larger village than the others and the abandonment is not as massive as in other areas, there is still a shortage of workers. I only have daughters and they’re at university, one is married and lives in Italy. My husband spends most of the time in emigration. And I kept only one cow for milk, while we sold the flock of sheep and the other cows because we could not afford to keep them,” says the 48-year-old woman.
Women in rural areas bear the greatest burden due to emigration. Often times families are separated, men are emigrating while women take care of the house and children.
“Life in the village has not changed much from what I remember in my childhood. The roads are damaged, there are no health centers, but even the schools are on the miserable conditions. We had combined classes in the village and my husband and I took the girls to the city of Vlora to go to school, about 30 kilometers away. We paid money for the van that drove and picked them up. But with the start of university, we were forced to buy a house. But I live in the village because I have the olives, the land, I deal with them. And I have no other source of income to go to the city, even though I would like to,” said Burbuqja.
She shows hands dead and cracked from tilling the soil. While she says that she would like to have healthy hands and face like many of her friends who have left the village behind for years and live in the city.
“I am 48 years old but I look older. Protect yourself from the sun as much as you want, we who works in the countryside gets burned by the sun, it makes us old. The countryside is tough. That’s why I told the girls, study, run away, even out of the country. Just don’t get married in the village. Because what we have brought to light, we are getting tired at work and we have nothing on the line, we will not even have a pension because we do not fulfill the years of work. We are thankful that we have olive trees, that we are feeding on them, and with my husband’s work in emigration, that we were able to buy the house in Vlora. But it’s been almost two years since he doesn’t emigrate, because age takes its toll. “- says Burbuqja. In addition to olives, her family also has vineyards, but they have difficulty finding a market for sale. A large part is used to make brandy.
Ermelinda Hoxhaj has been a journalist for 16 years in the print and visual media in Tirana