The Cleveland Albanian community demonstrated their proud heritage at One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. One World Day has been the official event of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation since 1946. Over 40,000 people visited the gardens on One World Day 2022.
Albanian Cultural Garden in the Parade of Flags
The Albanian community participated in the Parade of Flags and then welcomed visitors to their Garden where the statue of Mother Teresa (who was Albanian - born AnjezŰ Gonxhe Bojaxhiu) was a highlight of course.
In the Albanian Cultural Garden on One World Day we spoke to Albian Thaqi and Ervis Mellani. We learned about the 2-stringed musical instrument called a cifetlia, the story behind the striking flag of Albania (double-headed eagle!), the Albanian alphabet (36 letters!) and more. Watch the short video
Albanian Ambassador to the United States Floreta Faber visits the Albanian Cultural Garden
Albanian Ambassador to the United States Floreta Faber was given a tour of the Albanian Cultural Garden in Cleveland Ohio by former Cleveland City Councilwoman Dona Brady and leaders of the Albanian community.
Juxhin Sazavari, Ajaz Emini, Ambassador Floreta Faber, Dona Brady and Vilson Mihaj
She was especially impressed by the beautiful park-like setting and, of course, the Mother Teresa statue.
Quick Video Walk-through of the Albanian Cultural Garden
Here is a quick look at two of the main features of the Albanian Cultural Garden in Cleveland Ohio - the fountain and the statue of Mother Teresa. The Albanian Cultural Garden is one of about 30 in the Cleveland Cultural gardens chain. It was dedicated in 2012. This garden was created through the efforts of Cleveland City Councilwoman Dona Brady, working in conjunction with the Albanian community here and in Cleveland's sister city, Fier, in Albania. Its dedication ceremony was attended by Albanian President Bujar Nishani and the Albanian Ambassador to the United States, Gilbert Galanxhi and Fier Mayor Baftjar Zeqaj.
The first phase of the Albanian Cultural Garden features a statue of the beloved humanitarian and sister to the poor, Mother Teresa. The piece was created by noted Albanian sculptor Kreshnik Xhiku. The statue and garden dedication in 2012 also commemorated the 100th anniversary of Albanian independence.
The upper level fountain was added later. It was originally built in the 1920s and was in Cleveland's Willard Park for many years until Councilwoman Brady discovered the fountain dismantled. She saved it and donated it to the Albanian Cultural Garden.
Albanian Cultural Garden at One World Day
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosted the 74th annual One World Day on August 25, 2019. Police estimates say that over 30,000 people visited the Gardens and attended One World Day. There was a lot of activity in the beautiful Albanian Cultural Garden.
The Cleveland Albanian community was out in full force at the 73rd annual One World Day on the site of the Albanian Cultural Garden. Members of the community marched in the annual Parade of Flags and later there was music, dancing, entertainment, food and fun as members of the Albanian community shared their culture with thousands of visitors on One World Day.
Albanian Cultural Garden group in front of Mother Teresa statue on One World Day
Leaders of the Albanian community led by Cleveland City Council's Dona Brady met with Suela Košibellinj from Shkoder in Albania and others in the Red Room of Cleveland City Hall. The group offered advice and assistance.
Juxhin Sazavari, Suela Košibellinj, Councilman Dona Brady and Soni Mihij
Suela works with Vizion Ojf non profit organization which is focused in humanitarian aid for families in need, mostly women and children in rural poor areas of north Albania. They intend to give sustainable help for communities focusing on schools, reconstruction and equipment, as the only possibilities of the children living in these areas to learn and to have a better future. They also give direct help with food and clothes for families in need. They support the empowerment of the women through training and possible job opportunities.
Opera in the Albanian Cultural Garden
he Albanian Cultural Garden hosted an opera performance on August 20, 2017 and hundreds of people showed up to enjoy the beautiful setting, great food and music from the Cleveland Opera Theater. The stage was set on the upper level of the Albanian Garden by the fountain.
Albanian Cultural Garden delegate Armend Axhenti and Councilwoman Dona Brady
Mother Teresa Canonization Ceremony - Albanian Cultural Garden
The Albanian Cultural Garden hosted a canonization ceremony for Blessed Mother Teresa on Sunday September 4, 2016. "Many people don't know Mother Teresa was Albanian," said Cleveland Councilwoman Dona Brady, one of the founders of the garden and leader of the ceremony. Albanian-American Councilwoman Brady also served as mistress of ceremonies for the event.
Sheila Crawford, Sister Ryan, Bishop Gries, Dona Brady,
Sister Karam and Adem Meta
Photographs from highly acclaimed Albanian artist Fate Velaj were on display in the Cleveland City Hall Rotunda in an exhibit called "Albania - seen differently." Velaj is the recipient of many awards, including the "Albanian Excellence Award" given to him in 2012 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence.
The photographic display was part of a visit from a delegation from Cleveland's Sister City Fier in Albania. The delegation, which included Fier Mayor Baftjar Zeqaj met with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Council president Kevin Kelley, Councilwoman Dona Brady and other dignitaries during their visit. Mr. Velaj and the Albanian delegation were also recognized at the Cleveland City Council meeting on November 10th.
A delegation from Albania including Fier Mayor Baftjar Zeqaj and the Prefect who represented Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama joined Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Councilwoman Dona Brady and members of the Albanian community to dedicate Phase 2 of the Albanian Cultural Garden.
The newly completed Phase 2 of the Albanian Garden includes walkways, a fountain and lights so that the garden can be used by the community and for events. Phase 1 featured the monumental statue of Mother Teresa.
Dona Brady, Mayor Baftjar Zeqaj and Mayor Frank Jackson cut the ribbon
The 65th annual One World Day in Cleveland featured the depositing of soil from Albania into a crypt containing soil from other nations that have Cultural Gardens.
Soil from Albania deposited in the crypt
On May 30, 2012, an intercultural group of people came together to raise funds for the Mother Teresa statue in the Albanian Cultural Garden as well as to meet new friends and have some fun. The event was created by immigration attorney and author Richard Herman, City Councilwoman Dona Brady and Federation Of India Community Associations of NE Ohio (FICA) president Asim Datta.
Organizations and Resources for Albanians in Cleveland
Albanian-American Association of Cleveland
The Albanian-American Association of Cleveland was established in 1998. The association is a voluntary organization for the Albanian-American community and works without any benefit payment to members of Officer (practitioners of tasks). Any incomes will only the purposes and goals of the association.
The aim of the Association is to preserve, develop and augment the traditions of Albanian-Americans who reside in Northeast Ohio.
Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939. Communist partisans took over the country in 1944.
Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978). In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents.
Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain. International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997; however, there have been claims of electoral fraud in every one of Albania's post-communist elections.
In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges to reduce crime and corruption, promote economic growth, and decrease the size of government. The election, and particularly the orderly transition of power, was considered an important step forward.
Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure.
Profiles of Albanians in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio
Portrait of Skanderbeg in the Uffizi, Florence. During the fifteenth century Albania enjoyed a brief period of independence under the legendary hero, Skanderbeg
If you know of a Cleveland Albanian who should be profiled, please let us know.
ClevelandPeople.Com - Albanian Ambassadors
Dona Brady was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Dona has been actively engaged in the Albanian American community for many years. Dona is of Albanian descent. She was one of the founders and first President of the Albanian American Association of Cleveland and currently serves as the Chairwoman of the organization. Dona also was instrumental in establishing a Sister City relationship with Fier, Albania and Cleveland, Ohio. She currently is Chair of the Sister City Program.
Following the war in Kosova, Dona led the relief and resettlement efforts of the Kosovar refugees in Cleveland along with the Albanian American Association and many other religious and philanthropic groups. Dona received an award of recognition from the International Services Center for her humanitarian efforts resettling refugees from the war in Kosovo and continuing work on behalf of the Albanian Community.
Dona spearheaded the creation of the Albanian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park. She worked with the community to erect a statue of Saint Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa). The statue was created by renowned Albanian sculptor Kreshnik Xhiku. In 2012, Albanian President Bujar Nishani, Albanian Ambassador Gilbert Galanxhi, Fier Albania Mayor Baftjar Zeqaj and many dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting event.
Dona earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, Cum Laude, in Urban Studies with a major in neighborhood revitalization from Cleveland State University Levin College of Urban Affairs. She also graduated from CSU's Leadership Academy.
Dona Brady was inducted into the Golden Key National Honor Society and was awarded the 2005 Outstanding Elected Official's Award from CSU Leadership Academy.
Dona recently retired from the Cleveland City Council after serving 20 years. "I look forward to continuing my work with the Albanian and international community. It is rewarding and gratifying", said Brady.