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State and Religion
Should religious symbols be displayed in buildings of the public administration?



Ylli Doci

The First Albanian School of Girls and Albanian Evangelicals

We, the Evangelicals of Albania, understand that this is how we must love our nation today in order to be true to our gospel calling.


Speech given by Ylli Doci, President of VUSH (the Albanian Evangelical Alliance) on October 23rd 2016, in Tirana. (Below, in Albanian).


125 years are a respectable age for any institution, and today, this is the age of the formal educational institutions of the Albanian females. Keeping in mind that the Albanian independence from the Ottoman Empire was still in the future, with no Albanian state and not even a uniformly recognized Albanian alphabet, one can appreciate better the importance of this nationally formational institution: the First Albanian School of Girls, established on 23 October 1891.

Mihal Grameno, an Albanian patriot has written exuberantly about this school as a ‘national cradle’ considering the name of Gjerasim D. Qiriazi as a name to be written in gold on the Albanian national hall of fame.

Albanians are aware of the Qiriazi family as patriots and renaissance pioneers of Albanian national culture and education but very few know what motivated them and others like Gligor Cilka or Thanas Sina.

For me and the generation growing under communist propaganda, the fact that they loved their Albanian nation and served sacrificially for the cultivation of the Albanian language at the time of the independence of Albania from the Ottoman Empire seemed like a sufficient explanation for their motivation. But it would be deficient historically, untruthful and a disservice for the nation today to deny that their inspiration was their most cherished evangelical faith. Their faith determined the important particularity of their contribution to the nation.

The word evangel from where the depiction of their specific Christian faith derives expressed as ungjillore in Albanian, means “good news” and by extension the evangelicals or ungjilloret could be called “people of the good news”. But what is implied in the very word “news” except most basically that there is a communication of a message in words. John’s gospel starts: “In the beginning was the word… In him was life, and the life was the light of men. … The true light, which gives light to everyone… was in the world…”

It should not be difficult to see the close connection of “the word” and the language as a carrier with meaning as inherent in the nature of the word’s existence, but it should also be pointed out that there is here implied also a direct connection between “the word” and “everyone”.

Martin Luther in 1517 understood the message of the Bible as “the good news”.  He eventually rose up against the authoritative restriction of the Christian religious tradition of his day, which kept the Bible in Latin while most Europeans spoke other languages, and translated the Bible in the language of the people so “the word” and “the good news” could enlighten “everyone” according to its very nature as “word” and “news”, without need of priests as mediators.

This well-known revolution known as “Protestant reformation”, which started in Luther’s Germany, brought new impetus for the spreading of the gospel into the reconfiguring world of modern nations through the translations of the Bible in the people’s language.

The British and Foreign Bible Society was called “and foreign” because when they decided to translate the bible in the differing languages of the people of British isles they couldn’t find a better answer for the question “why not take the bible to foreign lands?” when the word was to enlighten everyone. It was this passion for taking the good news to everyone, which put in motion the efforts to translate the Bible in Albanian succeeding for the first time in 1827.

Gjerasim D. Qiriazi understood the good news when he was 15 years old from American missionaries in his hometown of Manastir and this motivated him to put aside his profession as a shoemaker to go and study at a Theological College in order to preach this good news of God’s love in Jesus to his Albanian compatriots. It was for this purpose that he then devoted his life to the writing of the Albanian language, the establishment of the Albanian school and to the progress of the Albanian nation.

The Albanian patriots look at religion through the lens of the nation. The Albanian nation, this unique ethnic family, has always understood how to preserve the good contribution for the life of this family in spite of the ideological or religious quarters from which such contribution came. At this time, at the time of the Albanian national renaissance, it was the Evangelicals who had the initiative but for the realization of their vision with publishing in Albanian and starting the Albanian school it was necessary to have the support of the Muslim and Bektashi Albanians who had important patriots placed in high positions in the government of the Ottoman Empire as well as the contribution of Albanian Catholics who had written the Albanian language since the middle of 1500’ but of course also with the support of the Orthodox Albanian population which provided the soil in which this first Evangelical sapling was planted as a blessing for the nation.

If there is one uniqueness of the Albanian Evangelical Protestant faith compared to how the other faiths embraced by Albanians made their entrance into the life of the nation, it is its love and sacrifice for the cultivation of the Albanian language, literature and national enlightenment.

Mid’hat Frasheri, a nephew of the famous Albanian patriots of the Frasheri family, who was the minister of education in 1911 has said: “Above all, I feel obligated to offer a proper expression of gratitude toward the British and Foreign Bible Society for the service on behalf of our country and literature through the translation of the Holy Scripture in the Albanian language. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to speak of the language and the literature of Albania without mentioning the work and commitment of those who for such a long time and through many challenges have continued this noble work.”

 The help of the representatives of the British and American governments at the time of the national struggle of independence from the Ottoman Empire was indispensable for the success of the Albanian national movement and for the Albanian school in particular.

Not even a year after this first Albanian girl’s school was started, the Ottoman government was seeking to use some obscure legal maneuvers to close it and in April 1892 both the British Embassy and the American Consulate let the Ottoman government know in no uncertain terms that they would not accept the arbitrary closing of every school started by whatever missionary, “even if the school is functioning in their homes”.   

Today we celebrate 125 years of the beginning of the First Albanian School of Girls and even though in a majority Muslim population, the Albanian girls today do not need a Malala Yousafzai to risk her life calling for girls’ education because Albania has never gone back since the first Albanian girl, the 19 year old Sevasti Qiriazi, became the first Albanian woman with a college degree and planted herself in the rough Albanian soil to establish securely the Albanian education of women since 1891. Her sister Parashqevi Qiriazi, continued this work and established the first women’s organization called Yll’I Mengjesit which started branches in different Albanian cities since 1909. In 1909 she also published the Primer for the lower schools thus becoming also the first woman author of school textbooks. Today the Albanian Minister of Education is a woman and you find the Albanian women in every front of the Albanian society beautifully complementing the success of that first school of girls in 1891.

More than another school, today Albania needs good schools; more than emancipating the women, today Albania needs to protect the victimization of girls and women and children as prey of human trafficking; today we face problems of marginalization of the Roma and Egyptian minorities, abandoning of school of neglected children and weakening of the Albanian family structure.

Remaining true to our calling today you would find evangelicals exactly in such needy areas of Albanian society: There are several evangelical churches and organizations which care for abused women and children; several who work for the wellbeing and integrating of Roma and Egyptian populations into the Albanian society, there are several efforts by churches to help children after school and those who have abandoned school to improve and succeed in school, there are those who have created and implemented curriculums for helping youth avoid such dream breakers as drugs and alcohol, and many churches and organizations fighting for a stronger family and upholding the wholesome values in Albania.

We, the Evangelicals of Albania, understand that this is how we must love our nation today in order to be true to our gospel calling.

Therefore, upholding the gospel and living as the people of good news we pray that every Albanian will know personally a true follower of Christ and will be able to taste God’s goodness through the good fruit of such dedicated lives which are represented so well from the very beginning of the evangelical life in Albania with this first evangelical fruit: The First Albanian School of Girls 125 years ago.



Shkolla e Pare Shqipe e Vajzave dhe Ungjilloret

Te nderuar perfaqesues te qeverise, ministri Klosi, perfaqesues te komuniteteve fetare te Shqiperise, perfaqesues te komunitetit protestant ungjillor te Kosoves, ambasadore, perfaqesues te shoqerise civile, pastore dhe arsimtare, zonja dhe zoterinj, 125 vjet jane nje moshe e respektueshme per cdo institucion dhe kjo sot eshte mosha e arsimit te gruas Shqiptare.

Kur kemi parasysh qe as pavaresia Shqiptare nuk ishte fituar akoma, kur as shteti Shqiptar, madje as Alfabeti shqip nuk ishte njesuar, kuptohet me mire vlera e institucionit formatues kombetar qe perfaqeson shkolla e pare shqipe e vashave e hapur sot 125 vjet me pare me 23 Tetor 1891.

“Foleja Kombetare”:

Patrioti Mihal Grameno ka shkruar: “Po nuku duhet mohuar edhe haruar kurre sherbimet e medha qe I ka sjelle cestjes nje ‘fole kombetare’, e cila ishte nje qendre dhe nje fortese ku mblidheshin edhe qe ku perhapeshin ndjenjat e shkendijat kombetare. Kjo ‘fole’ ishte shkolla e vajzavet ne Korce, e themeluar prej te pavdekurit dergimtar kombetar Gjerasim D. Qirias, emerin e te cilit, historia e Shqiperise do t’e shkruajne me shkronja te arta duke u mburur me veprat edhe me sherbimet e tija te pachmuara qe ka sjelle mbi alltarin e atdheut” (Kuanrud, p. 166).

Patriote Ungjillore:

Por kush ishte Gjerasim D. Qiriazi, Sevastia, Parashqevia apo Gjergji vellai I tyre? Kush ishte Gligor Cilka apo Thanas Sina emrat e te cileve i shohim te rradhiten ne keto faqe te para te ndritura te historise se gjuhes, arsimit dhe kultures shqiptare?

Fjala “Patriote Shqiptare” eshte padyshim e sakte dhe kjo fjale ka mjaftuar per brezin tim te rritur gjate Komunizmit per te mos kerkuar motivim tjeter ne zemrat e ketyre patrioteve dhe rilindasve te kombit tone.

Por do ishte e manget (historikisht), e pandershme (moralisht) dhe e demshme (kombetarisht) te mohohej sot frymezimi i tyre qe ishte besimi i krishtere ungjillor, sepse ky percakton vecantine e rendesishme te kontributit te tyre.

Cili eshte thelbi i ketij besimi?

Ungjilli eshte nje fjale qe perkthehet ne shqip “lajmi i mire” dhe ‘ungjillore’ quhen ‘njerezit e lajmit te mire’.

Por cfare eshte nje lajm? Para se gjithash eshte nje kumt, nje fjale! Ne ungjillin e Gjonit shkruhet: “v.1-Ne fillim ishte fjala… v.4-dhe ne (te) fjala gjendet jeta dhe jeta eshte drita e njerezve…. v.9 – fjala ishte drita e vertete e cila vjen ne bote dhe ndricon cdo njeri.”

Nuk duhet te jete e veshtire per te pare lidhjen e ngushte te FJALES me gjuhen dhe kuptimin. Por duhet pare ketu edhe lidhja direkte e njeriut me Fjalen.

Martin Luteri ne 1517 kuptoi pikerisht mesazhin e Bibles si lajmi i mire prandaj u ngrit kunder kufizimit autoritar te tradites fetare te kohes se tij, qe e mbante Biblen ne latinisht kur pothuaj gjithe Europianet flitnin gjuhe te tjera dhe komunikonte lajmin me figura. Luteri punoi per te cuar lajmin e mire tek cdo shtepi Gjermane duke perkthyer Biblen ne gjuhen e popullit. Ky revolucion qe filloi ne Gjermani lindi protestantizmin qe solli nje vrull te ri per perhapjen e ungjillit ne forma te ndryshme ne gjithe boten.

Shoqeria Biblike Britanike u quajt Shoqeria Biblike Britanike dhe e Huaj sepse kur vendosen te perhapnin Biblen tek cdo banor I Britanise ne gjuhet e tyre krahinore ne fillim te viteve 1800, nuk mund te gjenin arsye pse jo ne te gjithe boten, te gjithe njerezit duhet te marrin lajmin e mire.

Eshte ky pasion per lajmin e mire qe nxiti perpjekjet per perkthimin e Bibles ne gjuhen shqipe dhe botimin e pare shqip ne 1827. Ky perkthim eshte fryti I fillimeve te levizjes ungjillore ne Shqiperi sepse 200 vjet me pare, Robert Pinkerton kishte shkruar per kete nevoje per shqiperine qysh ne vitin 1816 dhe Vangjel Meksi e kreu perkthimin ne 1821.

Gjerasimi kuptoi lajmin e mire ne moshen 15 vjecare nga Ungjillore anglishtfoles kur jetonte ne Manastir dhe kjo e shtyu te linte zanatin e kepucarit per te mesuar si te predikonte te tjereve kete lajm te mire te dashurise se Perendise dhe te punonte per shkrimin shqip, shkollen shqipe dhe perparimin e kombit shqiptar.

Nuk kishte kontradikte per ungjilloret shqiptare midis ‘kombi’ dhe ‘ungjilli’ sepse ungjilli ishte e mira per kombin dhe kombi nuk mund te ndricohej pa ungjillin. Nese e donin kombin do te sillnin ungjillin dhe nese e donin ungjillin do t’ia shpallnin kombit por qe kombi te kuptonte ungjillin duhej te kuptonte vetveten, te ndergjegjesohej, te kultivonte gjuhen e vet sic kishte ndodhur ne Europen e Luterit.

Patriotet Shqiptare e shikojne fene permes kombit:

Kombi Shqiptar, kjo familje etnike unike, ka ditur gjithmone te ruaje kontributin e mire per jeten kombetare pamvaresisht nga cfare kendi ideologjik apo fetar ka ardhur kjo e mire dhe ne kete rast ishin te krishteret ungjillore qe kishin iniciativen ama per realizimin botimeve shqip dhe shkolles shqipe u desh mbeshtetja e fuqishme e Shqiptareve te gjithe besimeve si atyre Myslymane e Bektashinj, qe ishin ne balle te levizjes kombetare me Naim Frasherin dhe vellezerit e tij Abdylin e Samiun, e Katolikeve te veriut, qe kishin levruar shqipen me dashuri qysh ne mesin e viteve 1500 dhe tani vinin plot ide me Fishten dhe Mjeden ne kongresin e Alfabetit, por sigurisht edhe me dashamiresine e popullsise shqiptare ortodokse ku fillimisht u mboll ky filiz ungjillor si bekim per kombin.

Pra ajo qe e beri te pranueshem per Shqiptaret kontributin ungjillor ishte dashuria per shqipen sepse patriotet dallojne unitetin e qenesishem brenda familjes shqipfolese si perkatesi e njejte kombetare para ideologjive te tjera qe nenvleftesonin shqipen.

Nese ka nje vecanti Protestantizmi Ungjillor Shqiptar nga gjithe fete e tjera qe kane marre Shqiptaret eshte se ai ka ardhur direkt permes respektit, dashurise, dhe kultivimit te gjuhes shqipe!

Naim Frasheri dhe I vellai Samiu qe ishin ne poste te larta ne qeverine turke ofruan ndihme te rendesishme per shkrimet shqipe dhe shkollen shqipe por edhe nipi I tyre Mid’hat Frasheri qe ishte minister I arsimit dhe komunikimit ne qeverine e perkohshme shqiptare ishte gjithashtu nje mbeshtetes I palekundur I Shoqerise Biblike dhe ai shkroi nje artikull  qe e botuan ne anglisht ne vitin 1911 ne te cilin ai thoshte: “Ndjenja kombetare… eshte e fuqishme per te vene ne heshtje cdo ndryshim qe diversiteti I feve mund te kete krijuar. Shqiperia kurre nuk e ka njohur hidherimin dhe urrejtjen fetare; dhe cfaredo qofte kredoja e tij qofte katolik, ortodoks ose mysliman , shqiptari eshte gjithmone nje patriot I mire. …

[dhe ne nje artikull vijues thote:] Mbi te gjitha, ndjehem I detyruar to ofroj nje kontribut te duhur mirenjohjeje ndaj Shoqerise Biblike Britanike dhe te Huaj, per sherbimet qe I ka kryer vendit dhe literatures sone, me ane te perkthimit te Shkrimeve te Shenjta ne gjuhen shqipe. Ne fakt, eshte e pamundur te flasesh per gjuhen dhe literaturen e Shqiperise pa permendur punen dhe perkushtimin e atyre qe per nje kohe kaq te gjate dhe kundrejt shume veshtiresive kane vazhduar me kete pune fisnike” (Young. P, 48).

Ndihma e qeverive te fuqive te medha si Amerika dhe Britania ishin te pazevendesueshme per suksesin e levizjes patriotike Shqiptare dhe sidomos per shkollen Shqipe ne ate kohe te pare te lulezimit te Shqiptarise.

Ne fakt as nje vit pasi ishte hapur kjo shkolle shqipe e vajzave, Porta e Larte apo qeveria Osmane, me sebebin e regjistrimit te ndertesave qe perdoreshin per qellime arsimore kishte ndermend te ndalonte funksionimin e shkollave dhe te kishave duke u ndaluar atyre perdorimin e ndertesave edhe pse leja ishte leshuar per nje veprimtari te tille. “Kryeministri britanik, Lord Salisbury, udhezoi ambasadorin e tij ne Stamboll qe ‘te kundershtonte cdo kufizim mbi lirine e ndergjegjes dhe te adhurimit’. Ne Prill te vitit 1892 Ambasada Britanike se bashku me Legaten Amerikane I bene te ditur Portes se Larte se ato nuk do te lejonin mbylljen arbitrare e pa arsye te cdo shkolle te hapur nga cilido misionar, ‘qofte kjo e hapur ne shtepine e tij’” (Kuandrud, p.172-3). 

Ne 1902 kur u mbyll shkolla e djemve kjo shkolle rezistoi pa u mbyllur per shkak te lidhjeve me fuqite e huaja. Perseri kur ne 1910 te gjitha shkollat e tjera u mbyllen kjo ishte e vetmja qe funksionoi per disa kohe si shkolle nen mbrojtjen Amerikane dhe u quajt edhe “shkolla amerikane.”

Sot festojme 125 vjetorin e shkolles se pare shqipe te vashave por eshte interesante te vesh re indiferencen e medias dhe disa segmenteve perfaqesuese te shoqerise shqiptare ndaj kesaj ngjarje madhore.

Une nuk I fajesoj sepse eshte e kuptueshme. Ne sot nuk jemi nje shoqeri ku duhet te ngrihet nje vajze si Malala Yousafzai te ngreje zerin, per arsimimin e vajzave sepse Shqiperia nuk eshte kthyer prapa ne edukimin e vajzave te veta qysh nga ajo shkolle e pare me vajzen e pare Shqiptare te diplomuar ne 1891, Sevasti Qiriazi. Motra e saj Parashqevia e vazhdoi kete pune dhe formoi shoqaten e pare te grave shqiptare Yll’i Mengjesit qysh ne 1909 duke formuar dege neper qytete te ndryshme te Shqiperise. Parashqevia botoi gjithashtu ne 1909 Abetare per Shkollat e Para duke u bere keshtu edhe autorja e pare femer e teksteve shkollore Shqiptare (Young, p. 41). Sot kemi ministren e arsimit nje grua, si edhe ministre te tjera dhe gra ne te gjitha frontet e jetes Shqiptare prandaj suksesi I shkolles se pare te vashave eshte edhe arsyeja e indiferences relative sot ashtu si asgjesimi I malarjes na ben te harrojme kush ishin heronjte e gjetjes se ilacit.

Sot nuk eshte me ceshtja e shkollave, kjo eshte bere biznes terheqes, por e shkollave te mira; nuk eshte aq ceshtja e emancipimit te femrave por problemi i shfrytezimit dhe trafikimit te ketyre qenieve njerezore; sot kemi problemin e mbrojtjes se femijeve dhe te margjinalizuarve te shoqerise sic jane Romet. Shifrat mbi 50% ne segmentet e popullsise Rome per braktisjen e shkolles apo edhe 70% e te gjithe femijeve shqiptare qe thone se perjetuan dhune gjate vitit qe kaloi jane tronditese. Te qenit nje prej pese vendeve te para per origjinen e viktimave te trafikimit te qenieve njerezore eshte trishtuese (WV info per 2015).

Prandaj ku do ti gjesh sot ungjilloret?

Pikerisht ne keto fronte: Egziston nje shkolle shembullore ne Tirane nga klasa e pare dhe deri ne 12 dhe quhet “Gjerasim D. Qiriazi”.

Egzistojne disa organizata ungjillore qe kujdesen per grate dhe vajzat e keqtrajtuara dhe disa grupe dhe kisha me perkushtim per mireqenien e Romeve, ka kisha qe kane ngritur qendra mesimore per nxenesit e larguar nga shkolla apo per te ndihmuar me mesimet pas shkolles, kurrikulume per mesimin e vlerave kunder “enderrthyesve” si droga dhe imoraliteti.

Ne jemi te perkushtuar per mbrojtjen dhe mireqenien e femijeve dhe forcimin e familjeve shqiptare dhe bashkepunojme me partnere si WV per te integruar keto perpjekje ne cdo rajon te Shqiperise.

Ne Ungjilloret Shqiptare e kuptojme qe kjo eshte menyra si duhet ta duam kombin shqiptar sot!

Prandaj ungjilloret nuk heqin dore nga dashuria per kombin sepse jemi njerezit e lajmit te mire. Ne deshirojme qe cdo shqiptar te njohe dike qe e ndjek Jezusin besnikerisht dhe te shijoje bekimet e dashurise se Perendise qe jane te mira ashtu si ky fryt I mire ungjillor; shkolla e pare shqipe e vashave 125 vjet me pare.




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