At the end of this year Mary Ward Loreto will be moving into the 5th Anniversary of the Foundation. We are preparing to celebrate this time of achievement with significant events, in which we hope you will participate, in every way possible. We are grateful as we look back at the many new beginnings over these years, lessons learnt and fruitful action achieved in many rural and isolated regions of Albania. It is a time for rejoicing, of wonder and expectation. It is in the midst of great poverty experienced that the mission is unfolding. It is truly incredible how people, with very little, can find hope and new life. The ability to break through their boundaries and find personal achievement, new skills and growth into a fuller experience of life and freedom, is truly remarkable for so many of the beneficiaries. For this and many other gifts we are very grateful.
As we move forward into this anniversary year in celebration and hope, we will continue to break through our boundaries, with new projects in ‘’Service Learning in Education’’ and ‘’Learning, Practicing and Influencing Integrity Fellowship’’ in partnership with one of the municipalities in Lezhe. All the MWL projects are exploring new ways for ensuring human and economic empowerment for the many. Strategies for systemic change in the confrontation of patriarchy and the many areas of abuse committed against so many, is a priority. This newsletter has a different format which we hope you will find more interesting to read and share with others. We hope the home page gives you a more comprehensive outline of our news over these past few months.
This year of celebration reminds us again that new life is achieved by the many and that however small this may be, together we can make a difference. Happy Christmas to you all and Peace and joy for the New Year. Imelda Poole IBVM (President MWL)
There is an Albanian saying: ‘Welcome is the best dish on the table’. Over the last month I have been the recipient of wonderful hospitality in many places and for this and always, for any person travelling, we are forever grateful. Throughout this time conversations have been flowing around innumerable tables, seeing beauty in the natural world in which we live, local story-telling, reminiscing and frequently joining the rest of the world in trying to find a solution to painful world issues. This week I am back to another reality here in Albania and have travelled to Saranda; here there is a stunning sea coast that is open to thousands of tourists every year. As in many other tourist parts of Albania, Mary Ward Loreto Women are extremely busy making crafts to be sold in the tourist markets as a way of welcoming the stranger to these shores and for economic empowerment. The question is: why are some of the most famous markets at heritage centres closed for these and many other industrious sellers who want to make Albania more welcoming by the beauty created at the hands of the people? In Butrint the British Foundation wrote in their contract that the local people were to be engaged in this centre. They desired this involvement as a matter of justice and to share local culture with the tourists. We have an election in two weeks. Is the nose in the ground by decision makers? Every year there is some problem created until eventually the markets are open – too late- but trade goes on. We continue to talk, to puzzle about such injustice.
Wishing you a very happy Summer time!
Imelda Poole IBVM (President MWL)
Albania is surrounded by mountains which cover 60% of its surface and which wondrously embrace the landscape no matter where you travel. Whilst writing the next 5 year strategic plan, MWL staff went to Mount Dajti which remained our home for the week. It was an awesome experience driving higher and higher to this place, sensing the power of these naturally immense and mighty structures enveloping the landscape. How many reflective people choose this place to be silent, to stop and gaze and wonder and stare? Our plans emerged during the time we spent in the midst of such beauty and such majesty. We climbed and walked around, stood and gazed with wonder; we experienced ice storms, snow and rain, cold, heat and sun, all in one week. Did it make us stop and stare? We like to think that the creativity and dreams realized were the fruit of such wonder!
The following stories, events, trainings and activities say a little of what went before this event and we hope you have the time to stop and listen and wonder a little at the courage of many.
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!
Imelda Poole (President MWL)
This is MWL’s fifth newsletter and we hope that it will brighten your Advent season with news from MWL up and down the country. We tell stories from the areas, share best practice and new initiatives which have taken place since our last newsletter. It is Christmas time and may this news inspire you to join with us in our attempt to make a small difference in this part of the world, with joy in all of our hearts and a spring in our step!
Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote a story called The Beggar Boy at Christ’s Christmas Tree. It starts in a dark, freezing, miserable hovel in Petersburg. A six year-old boy dressed in rags sits alone next to his mother who has just died. He’s nearly starving, so he goes out in search of food. As he walks through the empty streets he looks into the houses and sees that they are filled with happy children celebrating Christmas. He knocks on several doors, but no one lets him in. Frightened by some older boys, the little boy takes refuge in a yard behind a pile of wood. There, he freezes to death. However, before dying the little boy dreams of the party of Christ’s Christmas tree, a party for all the child-victims of social injustice. There, he’s reunited with his mother, and they both join the festivities and are filled with joy.
The next St Bakhita day of Prayer which soon follows this Christmas season, is to be dedicated to Child Trafficking. For many of us working in the field of human trafficking, the story of Dostoevsky is not far from home. Perhaps this Christmas we can spare a thought and a prayer for the thousands of children trafficked into slave labour, street begging and a life of poverty and neglect.Let us wake up at Christmas to the story of love and open our hearts to those we do not see but whom we care to see on the edges of our own society but hidden in the gaps and cracks of our streets.
Mary Ward Loreto wishes you all peace and joy deep in your hearts, as we unite together at this very special time. Imelda Poole (IBVM)
Welcome to MWL 4th Newsletter
It is hot in Albania and soon the schools will be closed. As the weather changes so do the activities of the different MWL projects. Summer in the tourist parts of Albania means the opening of the tourist market for selling the handmade crafts of the MWL women’s group. The MWL youth continue to work towards their goal of gaining employment but make time for summer days out together.
The MWL National Education project is preparing the instruments for the National Research of the education system in Albania whilst the MWL Men’s project research is now completed and already some surprises are being revealed about the situation and the perspectives of the men in Albania. This project is also faithful to its weekly sessions in one of the men’s prisons and soon this will be extended to the women’s prison where 7 female traffickers have recently been convicted.
Since the last newsletter in March, the trafficking situation and the vulnerability of so many in Albania through poverty, corruption, and much loss of hope, means that MWL has a massive task staying hopeful. We need to empower our beneficiaries to feel this way, too. It is becoming increasingly clear that MWL is being called to train leaders amongst the youth who are the future and hope for Albania.
This new initiative will begin in October, 2016. It is important we stay open to transformative change and the challenge which this brings to us all. Meantime it will soon be time to take a well-earned break. We wish all our readers, beneficiaries and partners a safe and happy holiday.
Imelda Poole (President MWL)