“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin
By Shqipe Malushi
Saturday, January 5th, 2019 Le Jardin Restaurant in Edgewater, New Jersey opened its doors to the New Jersey Albanian Women’s Book Club, for an event to help a woman in need.
“We love books,” said Zera Musli one of the founders of the Book Club “we love to learn, and love to use what we learn to help others. Action speaks louder than words, but words enlighten us towards right actions,” she concluded.
The Albanian Women’s Book Club is the first book club in the Albanian community in New Jersey and New York, established in 2018. It was initiated by women among whom were Zera Musli, Memnune Dzeladin Abdula, Gonxhe Meta, Ditka Skenderi, Maljinda Debaci, Nurten Gega, Zerafet Mustafai, and Emine Beqiri. They meet every month in Wayne, NJ, for a book discussion from which grow ideas to help others. The Book Club has expanded its membership and it has grown rapidly. This women are all professionals, they have families, they work, and they find time to read and help others in need. They are already preparing to host an evening with poetess Seli Murati next month.
This is how the event at “Le Jardin” Restaurant also happened when the core members: Zera Musli, Ana Marky Walsh, Memnune Abdula, and Gonxhe Meta expressed a desire to Help Ganimete Haliti Sava, a young woman from Prishtina who due to being hit by a car at a younger age had lost her leg. A wife and a mother of two children, she struggles to survive on one leg, thus prosthetics were needed, but their cost is so highly unimaginable for Ganimete. The campain for her had begun through GoFundme,however to receive a prosthetic in India it requires a strong support.
New Jersey Albanian Women’s Book Club united and through the love for the books, organized a literary evening, with delicious food, followed by the music and dance. The service at “Le Jardin,” was impecable and very attentive. There were more than fifty women who attended. The artists: Hajro Rocky Ceka, Vebi Spahiu and Sammy Ceka, generously contributed their talents singing and playing music, they began with the song of “Ganimete our Sister,” and continued till early morning hours keeping everyone on their feet dancing.
I was invited among honored guests like Shpresa Xhakli, an advocate for children with autism; Flora Nikolla, funder and organizer of Albanian Excellence, highlighting the women’s excellence and contribution to humanity. Zana Nikolla, a Gastrenterologist at Premier Medical Group of Hudson Valley; Liljana Gashi, Real Estate Magnate, Loreta Stamo, Albanian American Women’s Organization (AAWO) Board Member, and many others inspiring women who came to help Ganimete achieve her dream and walk again without fear.
Zera Musli, a teacher by profession and passionate about reading, quiet and very kind, one of the founders of the book Club, introduced the club and their activities focusing on doing good, learning,and serving the Albanian community tirelessly. “Education is our way to success,”she says “and we will not stop till we shine our light.”
Ana Marky Walsh opened an event with great humour welcoming everyone with love and gratitude. As always she has offered her beautiful jewelry designs to women, and contributed 50% of the sales. Ana’s multiple talents made her shine through her great presentation of storytelling making women laugh and cry through her stories. Her amazing sense of humor brought comfort to our hearts; and most of all her endless love for people created an extraordinary and spectacular atmosphere of closness and fun. She sang old traditional songs along with the singers, she danced and she talked to every woman making them feel beautiful. Last night Ana shone like a real star doing what she does the best sharing and radiating her love with all to help Ganimete’s dream.
Flora Nikolla, radiated lightness for women emphasizing that all the women are not only beautiful, but creative, hard working, smart, and able to succeed in what ever they set their minds to. It is literate women who raise and educate children teaching them to love books and succeed in life. It is the books that lead Albanian women to light and their excellence is noticed globally. Flora is committed to document this excellence in all Albanian women.
Shpresa Xhakli, an inspiring woman who never surrendered to her challenges of life, but used them as tools to help children with autism. In her speech she shared her pain of being a mother of a child with autism, but she felt happy that her pain has helped her create hope and opportunity for children with autism in Kosova. She shared all her work, having opened first seven schools of autism in Kosova, and now getting ready to built the first Institute of Autism in Kosova that will be the first to serve the entire region. Work that fulfills Shpresa, it is not easy but she is a role model for all mothers not to give up to difficulties. “I work with passion,” she said, “And we should now prepare a younger generation to continue on our path so they too, can keep our work going.” She also generously donated towards Ganimete’s cause.
I introduced Ganimete, and reflected that two years ago the community had supported Syl Kodra from Prizren to receive prosthetics from India for both legs. It was a turn to help a woman.
The event was enriched by the poetry reading followed by the song and dance.
Hence when women unite the magic happens and the love of books and love of people become one. Thus all together with efforts that each and everyone could, $830.00 were collected for Ganimete’s new prosthetics.
I am deeply grateful and indebted to New Jersey Albanian Book Club for organizing this even for Ganimete, To Ana Marky Walsh for donating her jewelry without reservation and with love; To Shpresa Xhakli, Liljana Gashi, Loreta Stamo for always being there to help for every cause. To Nikolla sisters for reflecting on excellence and inspiring us to continue. To Musicians who tirelessly sang and entertained us from their heart. To Restaurant staff who stayed till very late hours and to all the women participants. It takes a united world to change one person’s life. Unity brings strength and we know that in our community we are never alone. Together we chart the path towards future using love and learning to lead our way. When women unite we move the mountains. Thank you all for your beautiful hearts.