Someone wrote in a Facebook mother’s Group “What should I do, my child will not stop lying?” and someone answered “You should feel proud. You are raising a politician”
How often do you listen to politicians and wish they could be charged extra taxes for using our oxygen on worthless speeches best suited to a night out in a sewer? Well the good news is that they are not all like that and I was fortunate enough to meet a politician who not only qualifies to use our Oxygen but works towards creating more Oxygen for the people in his city.
The Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj
Truth be told, I was pressured to attend this meeting by my husband because I do not willingly inflict the political bullshit served up by politicians on my self-righteous soul. But my husband once told me that my lack of political stand is what allowed men like Hitler to gain political momentum. So to appease my lovely man and against my better judgement I agreed to attend a meeting in which the mayor was the main speaker.
At first sight I was not impressed. “A baby” is what I whispered to my husband. Of course if it had been a blind date 20 years earlier, I would have been all over him like a bad rash given the man’s youthful good looks and natural charm. But it was not a date, I was here to listen and then impress upon my man what a waste of time this event had been. Now being a self-proclaimed worldly person, not many people surprise and impress me but this gentleman did. I was sure what to expect. What I did not expect was a man with a futuristic thought process determined to bring forward tomorrow to today.
He spoke of what his plans had been, how he had planned to turn his plans to action, the obstacles he had faced and how he overcame them. He did not use the big vocabulary favoured by political bigwigs that have us running to our dictionaries only to discover that the words were totally irrelevant and were meant only as a diversion to the real agenda. The mayor’s speech was given in a language so simple a child in kindergarten could understand. Perhaps he is acquainted to conversing with children given the fact that he mentioned kids time and time again in his speech.
He told of his biggest obstacle, the mentality of the people peppered with a communist past and a notion of self before us. Now anyone who lives in Tirana does not need to be a genius to understand how big the mentality obstacle really is. We in Tirana tend to think that all business outside our front door is everyone’s business but ours. However Mr. Veliaj is a formidable young man, who refuses to run away, hide or give up and pushes forward in the face of adversity and whose convictions surpassed my non-existent expectations and managed to impress me.
As he told us, he wanted to build a playground in the park at the lake. Along with being told there was no money to do it, the opposition demonstrated against it but he pushed forward and reached the silent undecided and not only managed to gain favour with them but also to raise money for the playground. Result, the playground was built and the children absolutely love it. He wanted to plant more trees in order to fight pollution and to build pedestrian footpaths and cyclist paths around the lake in Tirana but again he was told “We have no money, how can we do that?” “Let’s use the children”, he said. Our mayor started an initiative to ask parents to buy trees for the children. It was not easy to convince the parents so he convinced the kids who then went home and said “I want a tree for my Birthday” and when one kid got a tree the friend’s also wanted a tree, and so it went in a pyramid kind of way and achieved the impossible while generating much needed cash for the city.
Dear Mayor, because you have not learnt the deceitful act of evading questions, I am not sure you qualify as a politician. However I applaud your very positive input in this city and you and anyway else who continues to work for the people and not for self, has my vote.
As for the rest of you readers, I do not know what you are doing today but Sonisay’s, “I am off to buy a tree for my daughter”.
Erion Veliaj would love this article