Broken windows unite families

 Bill Gerber showed up at Bajram Hyseni ’s home one day, offering to repair his broken 20 windows. The gesture of kindness mobilized several others, and planted the seeds of friendship between their families.

(Bill Gerber showed up at Bajram Hyseni ‘s home one day, offering to repair his broken 20 windows. The gesture of kindness mobilized several others, and planted the seeds of friendship between their families. Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

Good deeds, new friends

Broken windows unite families

Roxanne Hooper, The Langley Advance

Published: Friday, May 16, 2008

Lividon Hyseni is no ordinary boy. At age 14, the autistic teen found a new way of getting his parents’ attention when they dared to work outside, say in the garden, and he wanted them to come back indoors with him.

He would take a piece of cutlery, a remote control, a key or just about any small item he could grasp firmly in his hand, and he would rap that instrument on the nearest window.

The subsequent shattering noise definitely caught his parents’ attention, and in a matter of just a few months, almost every window in the two-storey, older rental home was destroyed.

His father Bajram Hyseni replaced the first few single-paned windows, only to have them broken again in short order.

By the time the fall rains and wind arrived last October, the family was struggling to stay warm with an astonishingly high number of windows [20] broken – and little to no chance Bajram could afford to replace them all.

That’s when a miracle happened.

It came in the form of Bill Gerber, an Aldergrove Seventh Day Adventist member, and a resident of Abbotsford. He had recently taken on a challenge from his church to parlay $100 into a good deed for someone in need.

Like 49 other members of his congregation, Gerber accepted what the church calls a Kingdom Assignment, but he had no idea what to do.

Partnering with fellow parishioner Frosso Ghali, Gerber first thought of holding a fundraising concert for a known church charity, but he wasn’t sold on the idea.

As he continued to drive by this damaged home the situation kept niggling at him. He’d long shrugged off thoughts it might be a crack house, given that on many occasions he’d witnessed children playing in the yard, and there was obvious attention being paid to a vegetable garden and flower pots. So why the broken windows?

One blistery day last October, Gerber mustered up the courage to knock on the door, and offered to help the family replace the windows for free.

“When I came to the door, I didn’t know what to say or what to expect,” Gerber said. “Bill came and asked me, ‘You like if we can help you?'” Bajram recalled. “I say, ‘OK’. He come after that and help us fix the windows.”

Gerber subsequently learned the story of Lividon, his six siblings, and their parents. Bajram and his wife of 25 years, Nazmije, brought their growing family to Canada eight years ago, fleeing their war-torn homeland of Kosovo. The family eventually settled into their current home on a property near the Aldergrove-Abbotsford border two years ago.

Lividon is the middle of seven children in his family, and severely autistic. He didn’t throw things at the window – he just had no understanding of the consequences of his actions, his father explained in broken English. Always struggling to make do, the Hysenis described the unexpected arrival of the kind stranger as nothing short of miraculous.

“We’ll put a good window in every broken window in this house, to keep them warm,” Gerber vowed.

He and Ghali developed a plan, and raised the needed money to retrofit the Hysenis’ windows. A month later, armed with a lighter, Plexiglass-like material that was harder to break, Gerber, friend and fellow church member Ryan Mowat and the Hyseni family cut, fitted and caulked in the new windows. But the giving didn’t end there.

One of the most uplifting gestures came days before Christmas when Gerber, Mowat and others showed up with a new freezer jammed with food and half a truck full of gifts for the holidays, all donated by Mowat’s coworkers at Target Products Limited. The Hyseni and Gerber families then spent Christmas Day together, and Gerber has helped the two older children find good jobs.

“He helped us with everything. He’s a good guy, a good family, he has good friends and sometimes he makes funny,” Bajram said.

“He’s been so kind. It’s incredible,” added Lena, Bajram’s 16-year-old daughter.

But Gerber shrugs off any accolades, noting that meeting Bajram and his family was an incredible gift for him.

“It’s been so meaningful to be able to help someone who needs a little assistance. It just seemed to be the right thing to do,” said Gerber.

© Abbotsford Times 2008


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