Deutschland: Maria Christina Färber

We must break the cycle of killing. The first step is that the victims of violence do not become offenders themselves.

— Maria Christina Färber

A nurse and therapeutic specialist, Sr. Maria Christina Färber (born in 1957) worked with children from broken homes in Germany. In 1999, during the Kosovo War, she moved to the Albanian city of Shkodra, where she helped refugees from Kosovo. After the war she took over Caritas International’s psychological and social care of Albanian families involved in blood feuds. With the reconciliation of hostile clans, counseling mothers, and organizing children’s therapy sessions, Christina does everything possible to help families step out of the vicious circle of violence, revenge, and death.

Sr. Maria Christina Färber enters homes where curtains are drawn over the windows, women wear black, the children’s laughter has gone silent, and men sit in front of the television with stony faces. Fear reigns in these homes. “There are too many of them in Albania,” she says. In the city of Shkodra with a population of 110,000, more than 500 families live shut up in their own four walls. The reason is the fatal tradition of blood vendetta. “In the name of blood relationships and family honor, vicious circles of murder are set in motion, which escalate more and more,” she explains. As her uncompromising path of nonviolence leads her to the homes of offenders as well as victims, she has won not only friends. From time to time, she also meets with hate. Going as far as death threats. “But with my faith,” she says, “I can stick it out.” For the prevention of violence, a committee of men was gathered discussing the most urgent needs of the population in village meetings. Eventually, the people of Dobrac started to repair their streets, organize refuse disposal. For a long time, Sr. Maria Christina has experienced her chosen home country of Albania as the place of her calling, as only someone with strong spiritual roots can do. That is also why she entered the Catholic order of the "Spirituelle Weggemeinschaft." Every now and then, she spends a few weeks in the community’s Swiss center to draw strength for her life in Dobrac. She is convinced that "without the others, without my religious community, without our Albanian colleagues and everybody who is making one more step towards peace, without so many prayers by so many friends, without so many people constantly helping, without God, I could not achieve anything in this country, nothing at all."

Caritas International Spiritual Community