Thursday, March 26, 2015

Awareness Training about Healthy Nutrition and Cooking Class

On 12th of March 2015, Love Your Heart team and volunteers organized a training to make students aware about the importance of Healthy Nutrition. In the beginning of this activity, Love Your Heart team gave a short presentation about Healthy Food and afterward the students had to prepare different recipes that were selected by the health team. Around 20 young people have participated in this activity.

First meeting with the mothers in law of the community

In the first months of the new year 2015, ADRA Albania staff was very ambitious to work on the relationship between the mothers in law of the community and their daughters in law. During the past two years the staff discovered t: This relation is formative for a whole family in the Roma culture. As ADRA has already been working with the daughters in law, now it wants to set a new focus on the mothers in law.
The implementation of that purpose started on the 25th of February. In the form of a “Welcoming Party” Rezarta Prence, Kristi Qendro, Marsela Gatali and Fatmira Dajlani from ADRA staff invited 30 Roma women to a friendly meeting  of one hour. They wanted to talk and discuss about their children, brides and daily life.
The first women that came was Adelina’s grandmother, she is 72 years old and despite her old age everyday she wakes up early every morning and goes to sell second hand clothes in the villages near Fushe Kruja. The other women came after her and started to discuss with each other. This was a different afternoon because usually after work they go and prepare the clothes that they might need for the next day of work. While the others were discussing, one of the women asked: “May I know the purpose of this meeting?”. ADRA staff wanted to respond to her question but in that moment Lubiana’s mother said: “None of you understands that they respected us and brought us here to spend a different afternoon then usually. All of us have to be thankful to ADRA”. ADRA staff supported Lubiana’s mother’s opinion and thanked all the women that they have welcomed them in their houses and allowed their children and brides to attend REFLECT program.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Unpacking Love!

The 18th of December 2014 was one milestone of a big journey. Over 9000 parcels from many places in Germany as well as in Austria set out for Albania to bring the message of Christmas, joy and happiness to ADRA Albania’s beneficiaries. Those are living in rural areas, in orphanages and Roma communities.
On this certain day ADRA provided parcels to the members of the Roma community in Fushë Kruja.
In preparation for that event, facilitator Mira had listed all the names of the families that had applied for parcels. Only this enabled the ADRA staff to enter the community step by step and to distribute the parcels in an organized way – nobody was forgotten and all the parcels could be given away.

ADRA started the distribution in the beginning of the community but the message of our coming spread very fast all over it. After some minutes, the children came from everywhere to get and to see the lovely designed parcels.
But they had to wait patiently to get their own, personal chocolate, bag, dress, shirt, tooth brush or toy. 
One or the other kid even got a special gift like a flute or earmuffs. Pencils, school books and rulers will be helpful for them in school.
All the parents showed their thankfulness to the providers from ADRA and the children were mostly running around in excitement. 

Two girls even dressed up like Santa Claus and waited for their parcels in front of their house.

On our way back we could already play the first games with the children and their new acquired treasures.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

ADRA's "A Closer Walk" to Premiere on Hope Channel January 23 at 7 p.m. EST/ January 24 at 1 a.m. CET

In July 2014, the ADRA International Film Team visited us to film our project activities. We are very excited about the outcome!

Watch with us on Saturday, 24. January 2015, 01:00h on Hope Channel! Click here: A Closer Walk

The immersive, nine-part documentary series takes viewers to the most remote places in the world to see how humanitarian aid really works and how change unfolds from impossible circumstances.
“We hope our supporters will take “A Closer Walk” with us on Fridays this season,” said Jonathan Duffy, ADRA International president. “Our work at ADRA is greatly inspired by Matthew 25, and we are excited to pull back the curtain on what humanitarian work looks like and how, through our friends, ADRA is taking God’s love to a world in need.”
The series features the everyday heroes who are transforming the communities where they live. Follow in the footsteps of aid workers in the rainforests of Vanuatu, the refugee camps of Uganda, and with the children of the ex-Soviet Bloc. Each episode shows humanitarian work at the human level, where need is met with love.      

Episode 1:  The Roma (Albania)
For centuries the Roma have suffered discrimination, inequality, and abject poverty. Derogatively labeled “gypsies,” these people struggle for survival every day on the streets of Albania, with few allies and even fewer resources.  Local ADRA workers Rezi and Kristi take us on a Roma experience to a dilapidated hospital, a house crowded to capacity by extended family, and a rare outing to the seaside, to show us the humanity behind the negative stereotypes.

Watch with us on Thursday, 24. January 2015, 01:00h on Hope Channel! Click here: A Closer Walk

Albanian School Doors Stay Closed to Disabled Children

Following up the round table discussion between journalists and representatives of organizations that focus education and call for articles in the field, BIRN Albania will publish during the month of January a series of 5 articles (reports and investigations) on the subject. The articles will be published both in English ( and English (Balkan Insight).

Yesterday the first article of this series was published; a report by journalist Elisa Gjerani that focuses on discrimination in access to the educational system often faced by children with disabilities:

Albanian School Doors Stay Closed to Disabled Children

Albanian law may guarantee children with disabilities the right to an education but in practice parents face an uphill battle getting access.

Like any other child of his age, eight-year-old Ergi is a carefree kid, often giving a hard time to his mother, Bruna, as they stroll round the block near their apartment in Tirana, or walk in the park near Tirana’s artificial lake.
However, unlike other children his age, Ergi suffers from autism and does not go to school. “He is not living out his childhood because instead of going to school to integrate, he stays at home with us,” Bruna says.
“I talk to him and we play games together, but it’s not enough,” she adds.
Although the local regional school board gave Ergi a green light to enroll, the school would not register him, arguing that it lacked the capacity to deal with children with disabilities.
Right groups say Ergi’s case is not unusual. Although Albania in 2012 approved a law on inclusive education, guaranteeing the right of disabled children to attend school, they often encounter difficulties when it comes to registering.
Activists say that is not only schools that deny children with disabilities the right to an education. Fearing the stigma associated with disabilities, parents often do little to enroll them.
A study on inclusive education published by the charity Save the Children in November 2012 says Albania has 17,786 children with disabilities, 4,776 of whom are under six, while 8,845 are aged six to 15 and 4,165 are in the 15-to-18 age group.
It is estimated that 2,289 children with disabilities should be attending pre-school, another 5,477 should be part of the nine-year education system and 1,356 should be attending upper secondary school.
However, the number of children with disabilities enrolled in all three school levels school was only 1,058 in 2011.
Ergi’s struggle in life started when he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, following a trip to the doctor for a vaccine shot. “He hadn’t shown any signs of autism until then,” Bruna recalled. “I did not want to believe it,” she added.
After Ergi was diagnosed, his father abandoned his wife and child, adding to the family’s difficulties.
For almost a year, Bruna knocked on many doors in search of treatment, finally finding help from a non-profit centre in the Tirana suburb of Kombinat, “Let’s Stay Together.”
At the centre, Ergi received treatment for his disability on a daily basis, preparing him for entry into the school system.
Once Ergi was deemed ready for pre-school, Bruna went to register him. However, even after he received the approval of the local school board, the school would not take him.
The head teacher told her that they already had one autistic child and the teachers could not handle another.
“We can’t solve your problem here, take your kid somewhere else,” Bruna recalled the head telling her.
She turned again to “Let’s Stay Together”; however, despite mediation by the centre, the school still refused to register Ergi.
Janela Faniko, a psychologist at “Let’s Stay Together”, says they have encountered several cases of children like Ergi, who were able to attend school but were denied enrollment.
“Although the law guarantees these children’s right to an education, the doors of local schools remain shut for them,” Faniko said.
The same Save the Children study referred to earlier says 60 per cent of children with disabilities in Albania live in rural areas.
Overcoming the widespread stigma against disabilities and securing a right to an education is even more difficult in the countryside.
Flori, a paraplegic boy, attends third grade at Bajram Gashi Primary School in Fllak, a village near the port city of Durres.
He should be in fifth grade by now, but for two years the school head refused to enroll him, arguing that the school lacked a ramp for a wheelchair.
Questioned by BIRN, the former head of the school, Gazmend Bulica, denied any intention to discriminate against Flori on the grounds of paraplegia.
“I wanted to save the parents the exhaustion of sending him back and forth because the school did not have the infrastructure,” he said.
Flori’s parents contest the former head’s claim, arguing that they were ready to do anything to offer him an education.
They even hired a private tutor to home school him for the two years that he was denied enrollment, and say he is now he is an excellent student.
“It was a huge punishment for my son to be left out of school,” Flori’s mother, Fabiola, said.
“If Albanian society continues to live with the prejudice that no children with disabilities should be in class, it punishes these children,” she added.
Florian Kulla, an education expert with Save the Children, says cases like Ergi’s and Flori’s violate the 2012 law on inclusive education.
The law not only guarantees the right of children with disabilities to an education but provides for special needs teachers for classes containing children with disabilities.
However, although the law has been in force for more than two years, many schools lack special education teachers, making enrollment for children with disabilities an uphill battle.
“In Albania… when a law is approved, its financial costs are not considered,” Kulla observed.
Enetela Luadhi, from MEDPAK, an advocacy group for children with disabilities, agrees that the lack of trained teachers to educate these children is a problem.
However, Luadhi said many parents’ own prejudice, as well as their fear of encountering prejudice, is also to blame.
“Some parents have a hard time accepting the disability of their own children,” Luadhi said.
“Fearing prejudice from society, these parents come to the conclusion that school won’t do their children any good, because they will never amount to much in life,” she concluded.