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Bild: Deborah und Max Furin

In search of true wealth

In the summer of 2021, a family of four from North Rhine-Westphalia set off in a motorhome to experience an adventure of unexpected proportions. Coming from a fast-paced and often cold interpersonal world, they went in search of a place of warmth and contentment. The adventurers found what they were looking for in a region from which one would least have expected these qualities.

Eleven years ago, “Der Spiegel” reported on a blatant connection between serious mental health problems and prosperity. For example, in countries with a high average income, there is a significantly higher percentage of people with depression than in developing countries. Among those affected is Deborah Furin from the Oberbergischer Kreis – wife and mother of two children. She also learned about this scientific finding and, together with her husband Max, her 5-year-old son Noah and her 11-year-old daughter Isabella, set out to immerse herself in a socially incomparable world. Together with their two dogs, the Furins went on a two-month adventure in a 6-meter-long camper, which they named “Constantin”, to the second poorest country in Europe – Albania.

The adventure begins

The approximately 2,000-kilometer journey alone took two weeks, as the cosmopolitan family wanted to gather impressions on the way. On the “Adriatic Magistrale” – one of the most beautiful but also most dangerous coastal roads in the world – the Furins went through the countries of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro to Albania. The parents Deborah and Max deliberately did not want to spend a classic holiday. It was supposed to be a journey of discovery through the middle of the everyday life of another society.

Priceless experiences

The family spent the following months in the form of wild camping. Completely self-sufficient, people lived in a motorhome in various places in the country. The extraordinarily poor infrastructure was particularly striking. In general, roads and buildings are in a disastrous condition, water from the tap is only available in a certain time window on a day. In order to make their own existence possible for the next week, the residents usually have to do hard physical work every day. One would think that depression, dissatisfaction and omnipresent egoism would be the order of the day without exception due to the situation. The opposite is the case and the Furin family experienced this circumstance firsthand. “I have never experienced such a degree of warmth, empathy and generosity,” said astrophotographer Deborah in an interview.

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“We wanted to get a haircut in Albania and went to a hairdresser. Since we were making a documentary about our trip and wanted to include this scene as well, we asked if it would be possible to film. The hairdresser felt this as a great appreciation and subsequently did not charge a single cent for his service.” Such situations were not an exception, but everyday life. However, the North Rhine-Westphalians define another encounter as the highlight of the trip: “One afternoon we were picking a handful of figs when a man beckoned us to him. At the beginning, there was a great fear that we would have made ourselves unpopular with him with this action, but that was not the case. We got into conversation with the man and after a while he invited him to his family’s home for a coffee. After some time, we were actually offered if we ‘strangers’ would like to stay with them. Since this is the greatest possible gesture of appreciation you can get, we agreed. Theoretically, we could have been robbed. After all, our equipment could be made into good money by local standards. But this danger and the thought of it were never in the room. It was simply an act of pure humanity.”

Deborah and Max Furin are overwhelmed by the inhabitants of Albania: “Our expectations were regularly exceeded. For us, the tourist rejection of this country is absolutely incomprehensible. Albania should not be seen and traveled with the eyes, but with the heart.” To this day, the young family draws on these experiences and especially for the children, the two months were of enormous importance in terms of personality development.

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Own documentary film about the trip

The Furins captured their extraordinary adventure on cameras in order to then produce a documentary film. This will be released on February 27 with the name “Lumturi – In Search of True Wealth” in feature length on her YouTube channel “Constantins Diary”. Deborah thus fulfills a lifelong dream. She and her husband deliberately chose a free platform for the release of the film, as they want to make their documentary accessible to everyone – regardless of the level of income. Nevertheless, the Furin family would be very happy about a voluntary donation due to the large financial outlay. In any case, the documentary film is worth watching. After all, it offers an excellent opportunity to significantly broaden one’s own horizons.

Author: Luca Kielhauser