It was morning! The sun shone brightly, shedding its light all over the place. It seemed to be a pleasant day, but just before the noon, the sun hid behind some dark clouds leaving behind a scene of gloominess and that sudden cloudiness gave you the impression of something going wrong.

     I, a little 6-year-old boy, in that morning of the March, after fixing my red bike with my dad, got into the house where my mum, after having cooked my favourite meal, was waiting for us. Enthusiastically and temped by the smell of my mother’s cookings, I felt hungry and hurried to lay the table. Suddenly, I felt a strong shake. “Earthquake!”-me and my parents screamed.

     At that moment, I saw the glassware smashing from the table onto the floor, making a sharp noise.  I hurried toward my mother, while my dad, as quick as the wind, went to my newborn sister’s cradle and the four of us hid under the table, waiting for the tremors to stop, which in fact were getting firmer and firmer. Was it an earthquake indeed?!

    Meanwhile, beside the windows smashing, we heard the noise of such a powerful explosion that I just could imagine the Big-Bang explosion which I had watched in cartoons, where giant planets crash with each-other.

     Those moments, which to me were like endless hours, seemed to fade away. Things returned to normality. Shocked and somehow relieved, for at least none of us was injured, despite the damages, we came out from under the table and hugged each-other for a while. A lot of questions came to our minds. “What has it all been?”-we wondered. It was clear that it was not an earthquake.

      My parents, noticing the fear in our eyes, tried to calm us down and behaved strongly in front of us. Their soothing words and grateful prayers for everything turning out fine, came mixed to my ears. I had no idea how long it had been since that shock, but I felt that I napped, or slept or had a nightmare at my mother’s arms. Not being able to reply to myself, I shook from the long faraway door bell.

       My dad rushed to open the door. He came back with a yellowish look and in a trembling voice asked my mother to take me away. I went quickly myself, bur a child’s curiosity tempted me to see through the slightly open door and I noticed my uncle who was bleeding in his face. I was stunned with panic and fear, and hot tears where running down my cheeks while my heart was pounding strongly. My mother, much more scared than me, covered my eyes with her hands and sent me into another room, where I spent the rest of the day. Terrified and really curious I wondered what had happened.

       About two hours after my uncle’s arrival at home, I heard his voice saying: “The news! Turn on the TV!”

        I immediately jumped out of my bed and I slowly opened the door and after a while I could listen: “The sun shore again in Gërdec village in the afternoon, but this time nobody was interested in the weather forecast or in the sunshine warmth, because in that village a cloud of pain and suffering spread across. Our village has turned into a desert crater and it looks like a devastated area.

The factory of weapon disposal, victims, casualties, damages, human error, inappropriate working conditions, bloody battlefield.”

All of these could be listened from the TV, I didn’t know the meaning of most of the words I heard, but at that moment I could clearly understand that something terrible had happened. In addition to this tragedy that looked endless, there was also my newborn sister’s deep crying. Despite being an infant, she felt the tension of everything that had happened.

Conversation among my family members was escalating. My mother, in a weeping voice was saying that people of all ages were working in that factor y as if they were slaves. There were elderly men who soon would greet the underground, middle-aged and teens who worked hard for very little money but for long hours, even children prematurely grown up who instead of weapons, must have had much-wanted toys in their hands. It was the need which had enslaved and forced those people…

      As I grow up I realise the painful debris of that event…

26 lives are naming on tombs; many people lead to a handicapped life; somebody lost his/her parents, somebody lost his/her children, somebody was left homeless, his/her house was ruined and somebody has memories turned into nightmares…

      Consequences are irreversible…

Weapon disposal in the most inappropriate conditions would happen in Albania, without the primary safety, with no control at all from the government; the latter mobilized this factory itself. NATO membership was the startpoint of all. Willingness to be a member in NATO, was followed by conditions to be met completely, one of which involved weapon disposal which for about 5 decades had slept in Gërdec village.

      Weapon disposal, a solution for Gërdec inhabitant to earn their living to surbive which seems like making a deal with the death itself because lack of mindfulness of a mindless government.

      Today, 11 years later, since that terrible time, I returned to Gërdec, at my uncle’s abandoned house. Somewhere next to a dusty and almost burned out cupboard, as the result of the explosion of those times, I ran into a yellowish piece of newspaper where all the terrors of that tragedy sufferers where carved; a tragedy that still lives in the hearts of those who survived.

Who caused it?

Who is responsible for this?

Who must be punished and how can it be compensated?

Did this serious risk have to be taken by involving NATO itself, which promotes peace in this tragedy?

There are several questions out there which haven’t had an answer even 11 years later.

Written by: ALINA XHANI (Head of students)

Story experienced by: OLTI SHERA (Head of students)

Team: Bio-Love Group (Alina XHANI, Olti SHERA, Dona RAMA, Ergisa ÇELA, Greta MIRAKA, Kristina NURÇELLI, Marjona SEVDARI, Mirsab TAFAJ, Herta GASHI, Nadia DIZDARI)

Supervisor teacher: Dr. LAURA GJYLI (Lecturer of Biology and Microbiology)


Country: Durrës, ALBANIA