The Friends of Mary Ward spent a day of retreat on June 25th in Laç at the church of St. Anthony of Padua.
We had the chance to attend Mass together, explore the grounds, and gather in community for reflection and discernment. We also discussed the future of the Friends of Mary Ward here in Albania and in communities all over the world. It was a very fruitful gathering full of inspiration and planning for the upcoming year.
Our prayers centered around an attitude of openness, gratitude, and zeal, just like Mary Ward.
We would like to thank the Franciscan Community at the Shrine of St. Anthony for their welcome and hospitality. We look forward to coming back and to what the coming year holds for the Friends of Mary Ward.
“Serve God with great love and liberty of mind.”(Mary Ward).
This year, 6 of Mary Ward Friends in Albania went on Retreat in Rome. For some of us, it was our first time in Rome and was such a great and new experience. The group was very culturally diverse, being from countries all over the world, but all were members of the Mary Ward community.
We have shared and learned about the life of Mary Ward; her written letters, her history, her painted life, her lectures. What made it more realistic was visiting the place where Mary Ward had her clear vision of Never Being Alone in her struggle to found this new and daring congregation for women. It was inspiring being where she stayed and prayed and where she met with the key people who would stay close to her cause.
We felt as if we were back in time and as if Mary Ward were still alive as we walked and lived with her.
On June 21st an Anti-Trafficking Training at Kuçova Youth Center was conducted. The 26 young people who participated in this training were informed about the phenomenon of trafficking and modern slavery.
During the training there was great interaction and the young people were really interested in the subject, participating very well in the exercises. After a great session, the students asked us to visit them again to give more training in the future.
In the heart of the mountains in the north of Albania is a beautiful small town called Puka. Although it is less than 80 miles from Tirana, it takes nearly 3 hours to travel there. The city and those who live in it have relied heavily on the forest and mineral industries. Now that the forest and the minerals have been exploited without regulation, the population is at a high risk of exploitation. Without jobs, a health care system, effective education, and possibilities, the people are worn down in hopelessness. 60% of the population has left the area looking for other places to live, with more opportunities. During this difficult process, many families have lost their children, boys and girl. Crossing borders by foot during the winter to go to Greece, crossing the sea with a rubber boat to go to Italy, and nowadays hiding in trucks with a fake identification. Many girls have lost communication and connection with their families after forced marriages or promises for job opportunities abroad. These people are risking everything because as they say “we don’t have anything to lose”. MWL has been working in Puka for many years, for prevention and awareness against human trafficking, and finding ways and possibilities to develop the community. The last activity organized by MWL, in collaboration with local municipality and four NGO-s who are our partners, was a forum to develop agro-tourism in this area. Tourism is considered the best opportunity for this area to achieve sustainable development. Participants have been very enthusiastic and encouraged by the analysis done by specialists of different disciplines, like Shkelzen Marku of Yunus Foundation, who addressed the topic of businesses hospitality and accommodation, or Jaho Braha who is a specialist of history and ethnography. The president of MWL, Sr. Imelda Poole expressed the support that the foundation is giving to the community and invited the participants to make a more collective effort as key actors in the community, to fight poverty as a source of trafficking and use the opportunities for sustainable development.
Special thanks for the help and support in organising this activity goes to; Alban Doci, Ilirjan Leshi, Edmond Kocli and Manushaqe Çypi.
The MWLW Hot I Ri group has come together and collaborated on the development of social and economic activities. Women gather daily at the MWL Center. The women work with postcards and candle making while caring for their social health, collectively, and supporting each other.
The women have also been reflecting on new perspectives and ideas for initiating economic activities. They want to learn and practice new skills that will help them not only in capacity building but also in providing more income for their families. Production of fragrant artisanal soap products is being considered as a very interesting opportunity for the women to pursue with the support of MWL. To continue to do good things, we often have to stop, reflect, and analyze. Only then can we “grow up”!
“Meeting with Psychologists of Kukes Region (Tropoja, Kukes, Has) and “Psychologist’s Order for the North” Lule
Institution building and information is a direct indicator of increasing the quality of service to the community, so MWL considers this a very important investment of our efforts. This was also the initiative of close collaboration of MWL with The Order of Psychologists in the region of Shkodra.
On June 14, in the city of Bajram Curri, an informative meeting was organized with the District psychologists. There are 15 psychologists in Kukes, Has and Tropoja, from various institutions including DAR (Regional Educational Directorate), ZA (Educational Offices), DSHP, Police etc.
In this meeting there was discussion of the licensing procedures in the Psychologist’s Order, the professional practices, and the difficulties that the psychologists of the area experience in receiving institutional support and representation from the Order. It also addressed the importance of increasing the quality and ethics in the services offered to public institutions.
We have very good news from Saranda, where the past month has seen the progress of a very important initiative. The summer season is open and “opened” are the opportunities for the MWLW group from Shendelli, to sell their hand-crafted products in Butrint Park in Saranda. Seventeen women of this community have worked very hard to be ready to present their beautiful crafts: jewelry, bags, clothing, and souvenirs in the market. They are happy for this opportunity because it allows them to bring more money home for their families.
Thank you so much to the Director of the Park In Butrint for the support of the project. We are open for business so please come and see our beautiful crafts!