Sharks in town – Peshkaqene ne Sarande

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(versioni shqip ne fund)

A foreign couple (Robin Young and Russ Wieser) have launched a feverish campaign to tarnish my image because of a post I authored on the “Expats in Albania” page yesterday about the financial abuse and ugly behavior that they have perpetrated on a lovely Albanian family from whom they were renting. I never mentioned the perpetrators by name; my aim was merely to alert the expat and local community to the danger posed to all of us by such persons.

In short: In May, the couple left the villa they’d been renting for a year, leaving unpaid debt in the form of unpaid electricity bills. The owner admitted the financial loss, although it would be difficult for him to recover – he recognized it was the fault of both parties as they did not heed my advice to write a contract. The case reopened two weeks ago, as I was walking down the street with Mira Pirdenin, who had just arrived from Tirana. We were stopped in the street by Russ who, among other things, shared: (1) He had separated from Robin because of her shameful behavior with the owner’s family; and (2) Electric bills were much higher than usual because Robin kept the heater on at night in order to keep the dogs warm. (Those bills were at the root of the conflict: Robin refused to pay them, claiming quizzically that “other foreigners pay less.” Several times the owner brought in the Electric company (government) technicians who inspected the electricity connections and found everything in order. The owner was forced to use the 2-month deposit ($523.12 after bank commission)to pay down most of the accumulated bills, but Robin claimed that the deposit should have instead covered their rent for their 2 last months. Either way, the debt is still owed to the owner.)

I notified the owner’s family about Russ’s disclosure and they asked me to arrange and facilitate a meeting to discuss matters face to face. But the couple, freshly reunited, rejected all requests to review any documentation, and then began threatening me and the owner’s son (a student who only got involved because of the language barrier). As a last resort, I warned them that if they did not accept the owner’s invitation to meet and discuss the matter in a civil manner, I would make their case public. I had hoped to appeal to any shred of decency and honor that Robin and Russ might have, but they refused. I was not completely surprised by their ensuing slander storm against me, as I saw how they had treated that poor student. I was left with no choice.

People from Albania and abroad have contacted me after being sent private messages and/or seeing posts and comments from Robin Young, containing slanderous remarks and innuendo about me. Her FB post yesterday portrays me as a monster and herself as an innocent victim of blackmail and threats. This “martyr” seeks the help of the public, but even a child is able to ask the simple question: What is the reason that Robin Young refuses to meet with the owner (a person who had treated Robin and Russ as family for the past year)? Wouldn’t a civilized meeting be much easier than this international smear and shameless self-pity campaign? Also, how can we forget her husband, who exposed her rationalization for perpetrating this fraud?

I have a copy of all her communications with the owner’s family and me. I have physical witnesses. But above all, I have a whole unblemished life in the eyes of the community: in Saranda, Tirana and the U.S.

Foreign friends have offered to pay the $385 damages to the owner; but, expressing gratitude on behalf of the owner, I explained that money is not the purpose of my post. I championed this cause, first of all, to protect the violated dignity of hard-working Albanians. Those of us who have been immigrants find it hard to swallow the humiliation by outright fraud or acts of bad faith, especially by guests in our own country. Second, such people are extremely dangerous: being the victimizers, they rationalize their bad behavior then masterfully play the role of the victim. The messages Robin sent to the owner’s son are as taken from horror movies. Such monstrous behavior would not (and must not!) be tolerated, be it in the country they came from, in the expat community, in our city, or in our country.

While Albanians struggle to feed their families and themselves in the poorest country in Europe during a global economic crisis, how can a privileged couple with the financial means possibly rationalize making their personal unpaid debts the burden of their former hosts, proud Albanian farmers? The sickening irony is that this couple came to Saranda after doing humanitarian work in another third-world country. Indulge your imagination!

P.S. The owner made a brief video yesterday, explaining his situation.

Peshkaqene ne Sarande

Nje cift i huaj (Robin Young dhe Russ Wiesler) ka nisur nje fushate te ethshme per te njollosur figuren time. Arsyeja eshte postimi im i djeshem (pa emra) ne faqen “Expats of Albania” mbi mashtrimet dhe abuzimin e shemtuar qe kane ushtruar ata mbi familjen e qeradhenesit shqiptar. Pa i permendur me emer, kisha per qellim sensibilizimin e komunitetit te huaj dhe lokal per rrezikun qe u kanoset nga persona te tille.

Shkurt: Cifti u largua ne maj nga vila me qera duke lene pas pagesa te papaguara, dhe pronari pranoi humbjen financiare, megjithe veshtiresite ekonomike – ishte faji i te dyja paleve qe nuk ndoqen keshillen qe u dhashe per te bere kontrate. Ceshtja u rihap dy jave me pare: po ecja ne rruge me Mira Pirdenin qe sapo kish ardhur nga Tirana, dhe me ndaloi ne rruge Russ qe, midis te tjerave, me tha: 1. ishte ndare me Robin per shkak te sjelljes se saj te turpshme me familjen e pronarit; 2. faturat e elektrikut qene te larta pasi Robin mbante ngrohesen naten, per qente. (Faturat ishin shkaku i konfliktit: Robin refuzonte t’i paguante me pretendimin se “te huajt e tjere paguajne me pak.” Pronari kish marre disa here tekniket e Elektrikut qe kishin gjetur gjithshka ne rregull. Depoziten 2-mujore ($523,12) pronari e perdori per te paguar pjesen me te madhe te faturave te grumbulluara, por Robin pretendon se depozita duhet te mbulonte qerane per 2 muajt e fundit.)

Njoftova familjen e pronarit qe kerkoi menjehere takim, por cifti, tashme i ribashkuar, i refuzoi te gjitha kerkesat per te pare dokumentat, dhe nisi kercenimet mbi djalin student (perfshire si perkthyes,) dhe mbi mua. I paralajmerova per here te fundit qe nese nuk pranonin takim, do ta beja publik rastin e tyre. Isha e vetedijshme qe do perballesha me nje stuhi shpifjesh, pasi kam pare se c’i i kane punuar djalit, por nuk kisha rruge tjeter. Njerezit po me kontaktojne nga gjithe bota, pasi kane marre mesazhe private nga Robin Young me shpifje te renda per mua. Postimi i sotem ne faqen e saj te FB me portretizon si perbindesh dhe veten si viktime te pafajshme. “E martirizuar” kerkon ndihmen e publikut, por gjithkush eshte ne gjendje te beje pyetjen e thjeshte: Cila eshte arsyeja qe Robin Young nuk pranon te takohet me pronarin (i cili e mbajti per nje vit sikur ta kishte familje)? Nje takim do te qe shume me i lehte se sa kjo fushate boterore. Pastaj, si t’ia bejme atij burrit te saj qe ia nxorri zullumin, ta harrojme?

Kam kopje te te gjithe komunikimeve te saj me familjen dhe mua, kam deshmitare fizike, por mbi te gjitha, kam nje jete te tere ne sy te komunitetit: ne Sarande, ne Tirane apo Amerike.
Miq te huaj kane ofruar ndihme per pagesen e demit $385, por, duke u shprehur mirenjohjen ne emer te pronarit, u spjegova se parate nuk jane qellimi i postimit tim. I hyra kesaj lufte, se pari, per te mbrojtur dinjitetin e neperkembur te shqiptarit: vecanerisht ne qe kemi kaluar emigracionin, s’e gelltisim dot te na poshterojne ne shtepine tone. Se dyti, qenie te tilla jane tejet te rrezikshme: duke qene viktimizues, luajne mjeshterisht rolin e viktimes. Mesazhet qe i ka derguar Robin djalit jane si te marre nga filmat horror. Monstra te tilla nuk e meritojne as vendin nga kane ardhur, as komunitetin expat, as qytetin tone, por mbi te gjitha, nuk meritojne te quhen njerez.

Ndërsa shqiptarët përpiqen të ushqejnë familjet në vendin më të varfër në Evropë gjatë kesaj krize ekonomike globale, si eshte e mundur që një çift i privilegjuar nga ana financiare, t’ua lere barrën e borxhit te tyre shqiptarëve? Dhe ironia është se ky çift erdhi në Sarandë pas disa vitesh punë humanitare në një vend tjetër të botës së tretë. Jepini krahe imagjinates!

P.S. Pronari doli dje ne video ku spjegoi situaten.