“Everybody came and left 1,000 leks (7 euro; $9) or more,” Cypi said, standing in front of a statue of the Madonna outside the chapel. “Others brought bricks, cement, or came to work alongside us. A businessman offered assistance with tiles and money.” “They were all Muslims, our neighbors,” he said. The renovation was completed on schedule Dec. 5, in time for thousands of Catholics and Muslims to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas – together. Kujtim Balluku, 40, a Muslim who moved to Derven more than 20 years ago, considered it “our duty of honor” to assist in the rebuilding of a saint’s holy site. “We were warmly welcomed by the other farmers. Later we learned that most people in Derven were Catholics, but it didn’t matter,” he said.
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