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

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.

Stopping the phenomenon of Illegal Emigration has been a challenge in Albania for the last 20 years.  MWL is planting hope by creating opportunities.

In Puke-Fushe Arres, we have begun a course in wood crafting. In a few months, participants will be empowered to generate more income for their families by selling their handcrafted artistic products and souvenirs to tourists. The individuals are examples to those looking to succeed despite the challenges of living in remote areas of Albania.

Best of luck to those participating in the course! Stay tuned to see some of their beautiful work!

On February 15th MWL Men’s project organized a training, facilitated by the MWL trainer,  Zana Guri, in Lushnja.  The topic covered was: ‘’The Prevention of Radicalization and Extreme violence in Albania’’. 25 men aged 25 -65 years, from the Lushnje region, participated in the session.

The group was interested to know how this phenomenon could affect their families and communities and how strong this phenomena is in Albania. This session was an awareness raising meeting and each participant had the chance to reflect on their different realities and find time for insightful moments. The discussion was intense and very coherent. This meeting was a challenge in general because of patriarchy and the hidden nature of a man’s development in Albania.


The Goal of the Project: Strengthening the role of men in gender equality issues, abuse and violence, and in the promotion of development towards economic and human empowerment of men. This in itself contributes to the development of a better society in Albania. “A Good start is half of the work”,(a proverb in Albania). MWLM in the first year of implementation of this project has made big strides to accomplish the goal of the project. Human Development programmes, launched in January 2017, have broken many barriers which have been controlling the mentality created so far in the Albanian society. Hundreds of men, in different areas of Albania, have become actively engaged in the training, topics have been covered such as: Gender equality and gender based violence, addiction to alcohol and gambling, use of property and efficient use of agricultural land. presently and into the future other topics are being covered such as: Good parenting and training against human trafficking.

Besides this essential human development process for the men’s project, the development of economic empowerment of men has continued, in communities with less development opportunities, and in parallel to the human development training. In this context, dozens of men are enrolled in vocational training courses with the support of MWL. In the north of Albania training is being organised to facilitate collection treatment of medicinal plants, that are found in abundance in these areas and can be a very good self-employment opportunity for local residents. The MWLM project has also started work to organize local forums, forums where men and women will be able to discuss and address the specific problems of their community and join forces and voices to implement concrete and systemic changes in their lives…. This is just the start….