By Telnis Skuqi
Ballsh- Ylli Memo, 42 years old, the father of two children, is the one out of 42 inhabitants of Ballsh that lives with the economic aid. He says that he is benefitting the social aid since 20 years ago and receives 30 euro. “There is no worse than that. I live only with the bread and white beans, whereas my daughter never fills her stomach with bread”, says Memo desperately. According to him, the economic aid “evaporates” within one day, as he is obliged to pay back the debts of the previous month. “It is only one day that I enjoy that little money, as I do not want to own anything to anyone”, expresses Memo with sincerity and maturity. He says that he lives in poverty, but he considers himself very ‘lucky’. Ballsh is now very difficult for the survival and not everyone has the possibility to benefit the economic aid”, emphasizes Memo.
Ylli Memo, beneficiary of the economic aid
“Poverty has obliged me to marry my daughter in an early age. She interrupted the school to not further economically burden her father”, says Memo. He says that the employment in Ballsh is a “forbidden apple”. Since two years, the town where is processed the “black gold” is totally isolated. “Ballsh was living due to the existing national road, but since the new road segment Levan-Fier has been constructed, this town has completely bankrupted”, underlines Memo, adding that the only possibility for any employment is the oil processing plant. “It is difficult to find any job in this plant. I am an undesirable person for them”, specifies Memo.
Nowadays, Ballsh town counts approximately 13 thousand inhabitants, the majority of them are newcomers, whereas the autochthon families are becoming less and less. Fatmira Shehu, who is part of the list of economic aid for three years, since the time she returned from emigration, says that she is the mother of two infant children, and divorced since four years ago. “The emigration destroyed my family, whereas my town does not give me any possibility to happily rear up my children”, expresses Fatmira. “What can I do being three in my family with 3900 leke of the economic aid”, asks Fatmira. After coming back from emigration, continues Fatmira, I hoped to find any job here, but I am already disappointed”. Many years ago, Ballsh was a town that was flourishing, whereas nowadays you do not find any job”, she adds. “My parents, that are pensioners, were once working as oil workers, at a time that their income was above the average, something that enabled them to enjoy life”, says Fatmira. According to her, it is since many years that she is looking for a job, but there is no job for her. The only way to live is through the economic aid, adds Fatmira. “Once, Ballsh flourished from the oil industry, nowadays you may see only pessimism to its inhabitants”, says Fatmira.
Hatie Asllanaj, specialist of Ballsh economic aid
Hatie Asllanaj, the administrator of the social service in Ballsh municipality says that the number of the families that benefit the social aid is low. She expresses that Ballsh is the town of 1001 concerns, but the law No. 9355 “On the definition of the criteria, procedures and amount of the economic aid”, approved on 14 December 2005, is totally discriminatory for those families that have moved here due to the demographic development. According to her, the law No. 9355 is a barrier for the new comers, as they are deprived from the right to benefit the economic aid. “This law clearly specifies that the families that have moved from their hometown do not benefit the economic protection”, specifies Asllanaj, emphasizing that this Law does not have to exist anymore. “Being an expert for 20 years, I think that the law of the social aid needs to be revised, as it is unsuitable for the time being”, underlines Asllanaj.
Asllanaj specifies that this law excludes the families that have moved after the year 1991, something that has brought a handicap for the new generation. “The law excludes from the economic aid a new family in need due to the fact that their parents have moved after the 1991”, emphasizes Asllanaj, who adds that this law is actually an “alarm bell” for thousands of families that do not generate any income in this town. The administrator of the social service office explains that the number of families that get the economic aid is only 57, but the requests are many. “We have been careful to implement the law and we feel sorry for all those families that are in this lists and who really are in need, but the law No. 9355, ‘condemns’ them”, says Asllanaj.
To her, the life of many years ago in Ballsh has been quite satisfactory, whereas nowadays the majority of the inhabitants are confronted with the poverty and insecurity for the future. “The only employment opportunities are the two oil plants, but even here, there are a limited number of people working and the young people are not an integral part of the economic development of this town”, thinks Asllanaj. She says that Mallakastra is a ‘dead’ place since two years, time when the national road has deviated from Ballsh-Tepelena to Tepelena-Levan. “Many businesses being in the road axes have already bankrupted, whereas hundreds of people are jobless. This is a fact based on the increase of requests on benefitting the social aid, which are unfortunately hindered by the law 9355”, underlines Asllanaj.
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