I'm born l950 in Firana, Albania. We are four brothers and four sisters. I am second oldest. My family very, very poor. Zero money, no clothes, no land, worked in fields. We ate meal one time a day.
I start school at 7, go to 11 years old. No books, few children in school. We had table and bad chairs to sit on. My parents never go to school.
After I quit school, I work in fields or take care of cow, sheep, and chickens. I married when 17 years old. My husband was nine years older than me. He was farmer, very hard worker, nice guy. He helped me a lot. We had seven children. I was 18 when I had first boy. We had three boys straight, then girl. I had four children when I was 24. I said, "No more children." Then six years later I had another boy, then two more boys. I had to work hard. Wash clothes by hand, carry water, carry wood on my back to make fire. No electricity. I cook beans. Everybody ate what I cook, not like today.
My kids go to school in village first eight years. Then they had to walk one hour to catch bus to high school in town. Yari and Miri, two sons, went to college in Albania. Others all finished high school.
When Yari was at college, he met Wendy. She was American missionary in Albania two years. The missionaries went to school to talk to students, make them Christians. That's how they met. They decided to marry. Wendy met all our family. She went back to America to make papers for Yari. Then he came to U.S. in l997. I cried because he left to go to America. I couldn't talk to him. No phone.
In 2001 I came here with my husband for one month. I remember John (our ESL director). I met him while I was here. (Yari and Wendy were teaching ESL in the community center we were renting at that time.) My husband passed away in 2002 with cancer.
I came back here when Luke, Yari's and Wendy's oldest son, was born in 2002. For three months I stayed and tried to learn to drive. I was so bad. I practiced every day for three months, but I couldn't learn to drive. While I was here, Wendy told me about Jesus. I became a Christian and went in the water (was baptized). Then I went back to Albania.
I came back in 2004 and stayed. Yari made papers for me. I was 56. I came to ESL every Tuesday for five years. Hope (Shukers) was my teacher. For two years I couldn't understand English.
I went seven times to get the driver's license. Six times Yari took me and I failed test. Seventh time Wendy took me and I passed. I called to tell Yari, and he asked, "Who gave you the driver's license?" I said, "God gave me the driver's license. I told you I never quit."
Wendy found me private tutor to teach me English. I went to her house two hours every two or three days. Then I went to citizenship class. Nancy (Maddox) was my teacher. She had just me, only one student. When I got my 100 questions, every day I carry the questions in my pocket and study at work. For one year I had same CD in car with questions. When I went for citizenship test, I knew 100 questions, but he asked me many questions, not only the 100 questions. "How many children you have? What county do you live in?" I said, "Fort Worth." "No." "Benbrook," I said. "No, you live in Tarrant County. You need to learn more English," he told me. I pass citizenship test first time though, not like driver's test.
I lived with Yari and Wendy for six years. Then I bought my house for cash in 2011. Yari and another son helped me pay for it.
Starting in 2005, I work in housekeeping for four or five hotels. It is very hard work, especially at Omni Hotel. Now I'm at Air Base Hotel. After four years I am full-time. When they interviewed me for full-time, I told them my story, like I'm telling you now.
I'm 69 now and I'm healthy and happy. Zero problems, thank you, God. God made miracle for me.
|Kia and Her Teacher, Nancy||Kia and Some of Her Family|
|Kia and Dang, Two New American Citizens||Kia at One of the Early ESL Thanksgiving Dinners||Ladies' Row at Break Time|