Ylli is a single dad working as a barber for 50c a shave. His #happinessidea is a truffle-hunting dog, which he believes will help his entire village…
When Ylli (pronounced “Illy”) was a young boy growing up in the tiny village of Ilinice in Albania, he loved school. But his parents wanted him to work. Every so often, they’d pull him out of school to go to Greece to pick tobacco. Eventually, just to drive their point home that they really didn’t want Ylli at school, they took away all of his pencils. When they did that, it was the last straw. Ylli got bullied at school for showing up without any school supplies. Finally, ashamed of himself, he quit. He was 14.
For a while, Ylli never stopped dreaming. He designed a drone, studied Engineering online, and created a plan for his village—population about 80— to access free energy. Ylli got married to the love of his life and they had a son. And although Ylli was barely earning enough to make ends meet, he was happy.
But then Ylli’s wife cheated on him. He was devastated. Pregnant with another man’s child, she left. When their son was five, Ylli decided it was time to find a mother for his boy, so he got married again. With his second wife, he had a baby girl. When the baby was nine months, Ylli returned home to discover the wife abusing the child. He threw his wife out of the house. Once more, Ylli was on his own.
Every summer, Ylli went to Italy for two months to pick tobacco. From there, he traveled to Greece to pick apples for six weeks. Net, he earned about $1000 for three months’ work. This past summer, there was no work in Greece. Ylli had to return home to Albania to pick blueberries for a fraction of the wages he’d been earning abroad.
“My time for dreams is over,” Ylli, now 40, told Amber Laree, our impromptu correspondent in the Balkans who first met him in September.
But is it? Is Ylli’s time for dreams ‘over’? Or is his time now? You see, despite all of Ylli’s professional setbacks and personal heartache, he still has an idea about how to achieve happiness, not just for himself, but for his entire village.
In the forests around his hometown, white truffles grow. White truffles—the bulbous fruit of a fungus that looks like a warped mushroom—are the expensive kind. They fetch up to US$10,000 per pound. But they are notoriously hard to find. Those who scavenge for them must do so with a specially trained dog. Ylli explains that a dog of this sort would not only help him fulfill his own dreams—to build that drone, to finish that Engineering degree, to provide access to free energy to his village—it would help support his entire village.
Ylli Meda’s #happinessidea is to be provided with a truffle-hunting dog, a puppy of the opposite sex (so that he can breed them and share the litter with his village and nearby villages), and vacuum packing material from Costco (to ship the truffles). By providing these resources to Ylli, you will be helping to create happiness for Ylli, his tiny village of Ilinice, and neighboring villages.