Albania Mission Against
Human Trafficking

MARY WARD LORETO is planting hope with a human rights approach to combating modern day slavery. This challenging mission is implemented through works of justice, education, grass roots action and systemic change. The aim is to eradicate poverty, the prime cause for human trafficking.

Albanian Story

She is a mother of two teenage sons and a married daughter. Thanks to her many strong qualities: her courage, her fearlessness to cope with the judgments of the community where she lives and her family’s judgments , economic problems, different governmental and non governmental institutional challenges in accessing the necessary services ,she denounced her abusive husband and decided to divorce. She said ‘No’ to domestic violence and abuse .Her husband was inprisoned because of the domestic violence but within a few days he will be released from prison.

MWL has referred her case to the Social Services in Fier’s Municipality and in collaboration with other governmental and non governmental institutions, the life of this courageous woman and her son took a different path. She chose to live far away from living every minute, every day with the fear of losing her life instead she has now chosen to live in a shelter. She feels safe and released from anxiety and panic.

MWL also followed up her case with counselling, giving relevant information and engaging her in a free tailoring course.

She had never thought that her life would be like this. She lived in a village with her family. At age 33, her family arranged a marriage in another village. She faced an even more painful reality which he left behind, not only extreme poverty, but also the suffering of physical and psychological violence. Today, at 46 years, she continues to coexist with the father of her children. The family’s only source of income is economic aid, and that is wasted on alcohol and gambling. She works the land, caring for livestock and cultivating various crops to feed the children, facing each day her husband’s alcoholism. She suffers from migraine headaches and a disc hernia that has not been treated but which has made her life more difficult. Their house is a ruin that might collapse at any moment. She came to the MWL center asking for support to live in dignity.

Bureaucracy, lack of information and facilities, these are the main reasons that farmers around Albania do not have their property documents. This means they cannot use the land to develop agriculture and this fact disempowers them and their families. Travelling in very remote villages during the research process, especially when we had the interview face to face with the men, we saw, besides the desperate poverty, a lot of “abandoned” land and resources left to one side.

According to the recommendation of the research “ challenges and Perspectives of Men in the Albanian Society” MWL, has started a process of training with these men regarding to the property registration process, and pushing them to see the potential progress that they can achieve, if they use their existing resources in the proper way.

During January and February, 200 men have participated in these training organized by MWL and led by specialist in their field in Lezha, Shkodra and Puka. We are very pleased to receive so quickly, a feedback from our collaborators in these areas. There has been an unusual increase of applications from the farmers to the office of properties (in one area, 80% increase compared to the last year).

Also we had invitations from villages and areas to help even them in this process, facilitating and explaining with a specialist all these complicated procedures.

Since the first interview, F, declared that he would like to become a mechanic. While I was asking what might be another vocational training preference, he said that it cannot be any other, , except the mechanics course. I was really surprised that a 19 years old boy could be so clear about this decision for his life and what he wanted to do. When I asked why he had not already done this he said that he couldn’t afford the costs, because the closest vocational training center was 60 km far from his town and  the transport costs totaling 500 ALL (about 4 euros) per day. His family couldn’t pay the expenses. His father is the only one who works as a guard for 22 000 ALL (approx. 162 euro) per month which is not even enough for their living without having extra expenses. Almost, half of his father’s salary would be spent for covering his travel to the vocational training center. With the support of the MWL Youth project, he was registered and followed the vocational training course. The instructor was impressed by this young boy because of his eagerness to know more. F asked the instructor if he would accept him to stay longer and the instructor accepted happily. He used to spend hours in the vocational training center’s car service after the lessons. At the end of the vocational training course, we asked the instructor if there were any possibility to do a work experience. He recommended a car service in F’s town. He contacted the owner and directed us to meet him. The owner was happy to receive F, due to the recommendations of the instructor. After a month of work experience, he employed F, and now he is happy to have on board a really passionate young worker who wants to know more and more by exploring and working.

MWLW project in Tropoje, has implemented 8 mini-businesses this year to support the empowerment of women. These mini-businesses are: opening the shop in Valbona for the sale of handicrafts made by 20 women, the implementation of 2 businesses for breeding bees, 2 mini-businesses to raise goats and produce milk, a business with cows, an economic activity with sewing and mini-business to produce postcards. Businesses with artisan characteristics have been successful so far, such as tailoring, and postcards. These were sold in the Valbona shop. For the first year (July – September 2016), the value of craft products sold was 331,320 ALL. New livestock activities showed progress in the rearing of cows and goats, and the opening the beehive business, but income takes time since they are not in the production period until later next year.