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.

Mary Ward Loreto Men`s Project

On the 2nd of October, 20 men from Golem village in Lushnje participated in a training on Positive Parenting. This group was very dynamic and diverse; men that are already parents, young adults that are planning to have families, and 2 mothers attended. The group was open to discuss their problems with parenting and, with the help of our training materials, they realized why they were struggling to feel joy in parenthood and how to better communicate with their children. This training introduced them to positive discipline technique which we believe will better their experience empower them to be even better parents.


Last week, 10 men from Iballe village in Puka attended a training on Gender Based Violence. This gathering was full of emotional testimony and meaningful and difficult discussion. For the first time in our years of delivering this training, the men had the courage to speak truthfully about the reality of the situation and gave arguments as to why harmful traditional behaviors are still justified and embraced by communities. The training helped draw the men’s attention to the long-term consequences of domestic violence and gender-based violence in the wellbeing of not only the individual but also the family as a unit. The methodology used was selected very carefully in order to show empathy for our beneficiaries and to make them aware of the complex nature of the phenomenon. We discussed cases where they themselves could be victims of gender based violence, helped build their knowledge about the cycle of violence, and taught them how to improve their relationships in their families and take the first step towards change.



The last exhibition held in Puka’s House of Culture was in 1991. This house was named during the communist regime and for the last 27 years nothing new or innovative has been found in the house, only a few old statues and pieces of furniture covered in a thick layer of dust.

70% of Puka’s population has left and when asked about their future, a majority of those still left are planning to move.

Picture 1, the new square of the city

Due to a large amount of money invested in the last two years by the government, the city has a new face. The plan for the investments is in its last stage of work. Everything looks new and bright, but when you see people walking down the new white walkway of the city, you won’t see many bright and happy expressions. Viktor, a citizen of Puka, told us his story of unemployment and living off of the social services of the municipality. He explained that he may only have 50 Euro per month to live on “…but now I can walk in Rome,” he said, showing us the new square.  The people of Puka are tired. They are not used to living in a city where the outside of the buildings are a dream while the inside holds hundreds of challenges; how do I feed my family? How do I educate my children? How do I move forward?

Picture 2, during the wood crafting course.

Last spring, Mary Ware Loreto Foundation launched a new project in Puka, with a course for crafting wood and learning the art of pyrography. In the launch of this project, two objectives were in mind; to offer economic empowerment for participants to sell their crafts and to offer Puka an opportunity to develop her beauty, art, and culture.

We are happy to announce that both of the objectives have been accomplished.

Four students are selling their products to tourists and visitors. Only 4 months ago, one of them was working as a shepherd; he is now working full-time in a provisory room, producing beautiful artistic crafts and souvenirs.

Picture 3, during the exhibition.

Now we can proudly say that the last artistic exhibition held in the House of Culture was not in 1991, but in September of 2018. With the support of MWL Foundation, 4 students and their instructor had the chance to show the city their art and passion. 120 pieces of artwork decorated the old House of Culture, bringing joy and hope to the city which has only seen exhibitions like this on television. More than 100 people attended the event, including the Mayor, representatives from the government, members of the Academy of Arts in Tirana, and other intellectuals who expressed highest acclaims to the Foundation and encouragement to the students who received their certificates signed by the President of Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, Ms. Imelda Poole.

Picture 4, students working

MWL is working hard to bring the brightness of the new squares of Albania into people’s lives. We fight for them to have more opportunity, dignity, and a new future.

Every kind of support helps us achieve this mission. Join us today!

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 happiest people do not have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have. This is the quote that expresses the feelings which we enjoyed during the event in Divjaka. Here 120 people attended the launching of the research led by MWL Men’s project in close collaboration with local intellectuals. In only 82 pages we have explained the history, shown the beauty, and have told the story of the challenges and the future of this community, which they are building together.

Divjaka is a small part of Albania blessed by God with very fertile land and a beautiful landscape. Despite all of these assets, even Divaka has been abandoned and suffers the wounds of migration and trafficking, especially amongst the youth. In this community you can find many job opportunities, especially in agriculture, but nowadays people are looking for a lot more security, which is to be found in a standard of living which provides good education, health, and justice. “Now that we have this research, it will be easier for us to discover our identity and to add value to this and future generations. This will increase the will for others to live in this community and face together all the challenges from day to day. In this way we will stop emigration and we will be protected from trafficking” said Fredi Kokoneshi, the local Mayor and a resident of the city.  Inspired by this research and in the light of his recommendation, only two weeks after the event, all local key persons in the community set up a round table to address the recommendations of the research beginning with the setting up of a museum in the town.

*Special thanks for supporting this initiative, in different manners and for their help in achieving the success of this project, goes to: Anna Hawkes CJ, Imelda Poole, Shahin Petritaj, Flamur Pjeternikaj and Patty Stein.

Divjaka: The Research Report in Albanian Language.

Divjaka: Research Report in English Language.