Youth in Albania are facing a wide range of challenges and especially regarding the youth situated in the most remote areas of Albania. Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, through the work of the Youth project, desires to respond to the spoken and most important needs of youth. This is why the first year of this project was focused on the realisation of a needs assessment of 1,000 youth in Albania. Through the questionnaires and the focus groups, made all over Albania, we heard the voice of youth, we have built an Action Plan based on the findings of this research and this included the interviews with key stakeholders, religious organisations and the statutory bodies. Their views have also been taken into consideration as the action plan was written. By realizing the study, we have built the network with future partners for the implementation of this project. An advisory board has been established which includes representation from all of these groups. Before publishing the study, three meetings were made with the group leaders to evaluate the research and to look at its findings, recommendations and conclusions. The study was successfully publicized and Mary Ward Loreto Foundation organized a conference to present the research’s findings and to launch the MWL Youth Project. Youth and stakeholders participated in the event and gave their contribution by proposing the actions to be taken by MWL Youth Project.
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This project aims to realize the prosperity of youth through education, according to the analysis of their needs. We consider education as opening up opportunities and skills which are useful for life, work and for future happiness. We believe that the young person reaches their potential through education and experience. Our work is focused on empowering young people to function fully in their own communities, to be employed, and to become freed for citizenship, and able to animate change in Albania. We enhance personal development of youth, notably vulnerable populations, enabling them to claim their right to human dignity and a right to work. Mary Ward Loreto Youth will be nationally recognized as the main project in support of Freedom, Justice, Sincerity and Hope in Albania. We will be known for strong advocacy, operational excellence and for taking the initiative to add value to vulnerable young people through vocational education and human empowerment.
• To create a network of protagonists and stakeholders who together will ensure young people have the capacity to improve their lives, find dignity and become empowered to be the people they were born to become.
• To continue the work of awareness raising against trafficking in partnership with the URAT network, in cities and in the rural and informal regions of Albania.
• To enable youth to become economically independent.
• To work for the human development of Youth.
We will sustain our operations by working in partnerships with all organizations, projects and working boards who will be part of this enterprise.
Areas Where MWL Youth Operate
Three Focus Groups:
Training Programme Areas:
Mary Ward Loreto Youth Project’s strategy in achieving its goals is based on the development of these two main components:
1) Working with 3 Focus Groups, in 3 areas with 38 young people, specifically:
12 young people in Puka,
12 young people in Tirana
14 young people in Lushnja
For each of the areas, we lead these young people towards their employment preferences by firstly assisting them to enrol in their chosen courses and to assess their progress during these vocational trainings. After graduating from their vocational trainings, MWL Youth ensures that each young person does an internship by a company or institution, which gives them the chance to practice their knowledge and get used to a working environment. The next step is to equip them with professional tool kits containing the main instruments of their work (as interns or self-employed).
They are also involved in three “Human Development” trainings sessions. For the 3 Focus Groups there is a special training session on the subject of “Job Instruments”, including:
– Practical information on how to write and shape a CV,
– Description of a letter of interest and role plays in a job interview.
– MWL Youth plans to introduce two other trainings in the framework of “Human and Economic Development”:
– “Different and Equal”- a training on self-acceptance and against any form of discrimination,
– “Learn entrepreneurship”- a training on entrepreneurship and business issues.
2) “Human Development” -Training Sessions with Youth Groups in 13 different areas all over Albania.
MWL Youth target groups consist of young boys and girls varying from 15 to 25 years old and spread in 13 specific areas of the country. These areas have been chosen after conducting a professional field research by the Foundation, analysing the level of vulnerability in each area and the community necessities. The targeted youth groups in words are reached through contacts between MWL and local partners in these areas, meaning churches, schools or any other partner who is considered to be very close to the community. Our aim is to reach a number of 300 participants.
Events and Action
On 29th of September at Don Bosko Centre in Tirana, 40 youngsters from Puka and Lushnja celebrated their first success on the journey to becoming leaders.They were provided with certificates which testify their commitment to the project activities including: Six Human Development trainings: Job search, Human Anti-trafficking, Communication Skills, Mental and Emotional Health, Different and Equal and Learning Entrepreneurship; Vocational Training Course; Work Experience; Voluntary Activities; Social and Recreational Group Activity.
On this day MWL Foundation organized an event to say a huge thank you to them for the trust that they have shown in themselves and through their commitment to the MWL Youth Program. This event was characterized by joy and enthusiasm which was the most important achievement for these youngsters when 12 months before they had no idea what to do with their lives. Now they are writing their stories of hope, joy and freedom. On this happy moment day MWL President, Imelda Poole, MWL Youth Project manager Gazmir Memaj, Head of Mobile Unit of Regional Directorate of Public Vocational Training, Arben Sinoimeri and 2 key workers in Lushnje and Puka, Shahin Petritaj and Ilirjan Lleshi were present and delivered the certificates. These youngsters are now ready to fly, 50% are employed already and they are changing their communities.
MWL Leadership’s Group, in the framework of their commitment towards social responsibility in their community, have successfully accomplished two of the activities from their “Social Actions Agenda”. The idea of this Agenda is to engage the future community leaders in a step-by-step, “learning-by- doing” process of taking initiatives to improve life around them, with little actions, but big in their hearts. The first one took place on March 17, 2017 and consisted in organizing an afternoon dedicated to the entertainment of children in the community, through the animation of Leadership Group members. A group of 4 members was in charge of leading this event, sharing responsibilities with the rest of the group. This idea came as a result of identifying the lack of activities which would encourage the bringing together of children from two different villages. The purpose of this day was to have a good time together in a creative space, where they could release their positive energy and share their artistic talents. The activity was characterised by lots of dynamism, colourful theme paintings, young energy, fun group games, music, dancing and socialising. It was the first “test” and it was very successfully handled by the Group. The second round of action was the implementation of one of the sub-groups’ idea. This time the Leadership Group focused their efforts on identifying a family living within their community, in poor conditions and to collect food and clothing for them. On the 21st of April, with the help of the Church in Lagje Mirdita, the contributions of the community and the Group members themselves, managed to gather 6 bags filled with food supplies, socks and underwear for the family. The identification process had taken place during a two week period before finding the supplies. The aim of it was finalised last Friday, in one of the most vulnerable areas outside Durres, known as the area of “Keneta”. It is called so because it is built over and around an existing marsh. It was a very moving event for the Group and an inspirational gesture for their whole community, taking into account the daily troubles and struggles they continuously have to fight with.
Fier is proclaimed to be one of the main sources of traffickers and victims of Human Trafficking, which makes it a priority destination of our field work. 50+ pupils of the High school received information on different types of communication, social media, its impacts, etc., emphasizing the continuous need to improve their inner-communication skills.
Through many group dynamics and games, they were also introduced to techniques which they can apply themselves, to enhance their communication and be aware of possible conflicts it might cause. Mary Agnes stayed with us throughout the day and learnt more about our grass-roots work and about our targeted youth. This meeting was followed by her visit to Lushnje, where she was introduced to the MWL Focus Group. This short visit enabled her direct contact with the terrain and with the youngsters, their problems and the opportunities given to them as part of MWL Youth project.
On the 16th of December 2016, the first Leadership training was held at “Lagje Mirdita”, in Durres. Although part of Durres municipality, this neighborhood suffers a high level of marginalization and is composed of a homogeneous community of migrants from the region of Mirdita. 13 boys and girls from the MWL Youth group are committed to following the MWL Youth Leadership Program and are being trained in leadership skills. The purpose is to enable them to become transformed into important actors of their community and beyond.
The 1st training delivered by MWL Psychologist Trainer, Zana Guri, has offered a wide panorama of what Leadership means and how it can become a touchable concept also for these youngsters raised in difficult backgrounds.
Breaking down the authoritarian stereotype of communication is highlighted as a challenge and a communication skills problems that affects youth in todays Albanian society.
On the 15th and the 16th of November 2016, MWL Youth project went to Saranda to meet 28 pupils from “Hasan Tahsini” High School. During these two days we talked and shared information on Human Anti-trafficking and the socio-psychological topic of “Emotional and Mental Health”. It was a pleasure to be in the midst of these youngsters, who were around 16 years old and who were so eager to learn and be part of a change in themselves, as well as in their communities.
MWL Youth Project – Human Anti-trafficking Awareness Raising and Emotional & Mental Health Training in Leskovik:
Leskovik is a city in the south-east of Albania, on the border with Macedonia and Greece. Many of the youngsters there have migrated already. Starting from these facts, we considered it important to treat the subject of Human Trafficking and “Emotional & Mental Health” in such a context. Points to highlight from this event are the great welcome we received from the pupils of “Jani Vreto” school and their openness towards discussing, in a very interactive and dynamic way, around these two topics. The training sessions were delivered on 22nd and 23d of the last month.
On the 16th of December 2016, the first Leadership training was held at “Lagje Mirdita”, in Durres. Although part of Durres municipality, this neighborhood suffers a high level of marginalization and is composed of a homogeneous community of migrants from the region of Mirdita. 13 boys and girls from the MWL Youth group are committed to following the MWL Youth Leadership Program and are being trained in leadership skills. The purpose is to enable them to become transformed into important actors of their community and beyond. The 1st training delivered by MWL Psychologist Trainer, Zana Guri, has offered a wide panorama of what Leadership means and how it can become a touchable concept also for these youngsters raised in difficult backgrounds.
Part of the Human Development Training schedule of MWL Youth is the topic of “Communication Skills” for our targeted youth groups in 15 areas around Albania. The first one took place on January 9th with the youth group of Lushnja. The MWL Youth Focus Group and many other youngsters from nearby villages formed a nice group of 20 boys and girls. Breaking down the authoritarian stereotype of communication is highlighted as a challenge and a communication skills problems that affects youth in todays Albanian society.
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.
The first Human Anti-trafficking training in the recently started working year for MWL Youth, was held in Kukës, on 22nd of September. The training was hosted at the “American Corner” and thirty teenagers from High-schools of the city and surroundings, as well as representatives from local public institutions participated in this event. Present at the training was Imelda Poole. The next awareness-raising session on Human Anti-trafficking was held in the High-school of Këlcyra, on 13th of October. A large group of 50 pupils from that school took part, with ages varying from 15 to 18. There was a good mixture of boys and girls and despite the high numbers in one tiny classroom, the training went smoothly. Due to the big number of participants, the training was mainly focused on interactive activities and therefore the interest was kept high. The third event during this time was Human Anti-trafficking training in Saranda, at the High-school, in November, with 30 pupils participating. The feedback was great from their part and the professors asked for further collaboration with the same topic. We continue reaching out in Kelcyra, through our trainings, due to its high levels of vulnerability and considering the network we have already built there. Other 12 trainings on Human Anti-trafficking will be conducted during this year and we are really looking forward to committing ourselves to making a deep impact in these communities suffering from difficult social and economic background. Therefore, it would be fair to say that these trainings have been a really good start for our awareness raising work since the summer.
Human Anti Trafficking Training with the Medical Staff of Mirdita Hospital, in Rrëshen
As a response to the invitation by the Hospital of Mirdita, on Monday, the 14th of December, Mary Ward Loreto, in collaboration with Peace Corps, presented its Human Anti-Trafficking Awareness Raising Session at the Regional Hospital in Rrëshen. 22 doctors, nurses and other staff coming from Rrëshen, as well as areas around, were involved in the training. The purpose of our presence there was mostly oriented in offering an instructions guide on how to identify a victim by the health symptoms and what to do in case they believe they are facing someone trafficked. Therefore, the presentation included a medical aspect of the most common health profile of a victim. “What can we do if they come to us? Why would they come to us and not to the police station? Why do we need to take the risk to help these people? Isn’t that too much of a responsibility for a doctor?” were their questions which surprisingly suggested insecurity and a sense of non-willingness to “deal with it”. Although they claimed to have never heard or face any similar situation in their professional life, they accepted to hand out the cards with the contacts of shelters to doubtful patients they might receive in the future. One person approached us about the issue saying that there were indeed many returned trafficked victims in the region who needed support but they had not known what to do. We hope that now, more people needing care, will be referred through the emergency helpline, to those who can support these victims of modern day slavery.
New Staff for MWL Youth
My name is Sara Çapaliku and I have just got on board as a staff member of Mary Ward Loreto, gratefully! The opportunity to be a Youth Trainer at the MWL Youth Project, came to me after graduating from a Masters in European Studies, in Germany. As a student of Law and European Studies, I was seeking a job that would motivate and inspire me to use my knowledge for a good cause. Not only my studies have driven me through to the path of Justice, but also my natural will and my dreams to always contribute in the fight against the violation of Human Rights. What brought me here, I think, was a wish that I gently felt in my heart, to be part of a team that has a voice and not only that, but also a hand and an ear for the most vulnerable people of the society. I came back to my country after living abroad, not sad and disappointed because of my return, as you could think, but instead, I came seeing a light that was guiding me and I just decided to follow it. Being raised in Albania, means your skin gets thicker by observing, but also being a subject of many kinds of abuse, without even recognizing it. The point in my job is to recognize it, and that is just the start, because my duty is to make others aware of it and with that, to make them less vulnerable in front of it. I am going to travel across the country to train groups of youth on the issue of
Human Trafficking and I will as well contribute for the other line of our Youth Project, which aims to give economic empowerment to the youth. These two lines collaborate perfectly to succeed in the reduction of young people becoming victims of trafficking or subjects of different kinds of abuse. It is a process towards positive energy, strength and lots of love.
Mary Ward Loreto Youth Conference
A conference was held at The Tirana International Hotel to launch this research and present the issues and needs of youth in Albania. These had been defined in the research as a result of hours of listening and a careful analysis of the findings in which the issues and needs were recognized. The following is an outline of the programme for this innovative conference in which the young people took part with music, drama and poetry. The questions and discussion arising at this conference animated the whole day and have led to a dynamic plan of action being formed.
International Volunteer Day takes place on December 5th each year and is celebrated in a majority of countries throughout the world.
MWL Volunteers are engaged in volunteering their time, energies, and skills. They are also engaged in different campaigns to combat human trafficking.
We thank all MWL volunteers for their contribution and we encourage everyone to get involved and to make a difference in their own communities.
Many thanks to everyone,
Mary Ward Loreto Youth Project’s strategy in achieving its goals is based on the development of these two main components: Working with 3 Focus Groups. Offering “Human Development” trainings to youth groups in 13 different areas all over Albania.
We are working in 3 areas with 38 young people. For each of the areas, we lead these young people towards their employment preferences by firstly assisting them to enrol in their chosen courses and to assess their progress during these vocational trainings. After graduating from their vocational trainings, MWL Youth ensures that each young person does an internship by a company or institution, which gives them the chance to practice their knowledge and get used to a working environment. The next step is to equip them with professional tool kits containing the main instruments of their work (as interns or self-employed). Please click here to download the report…
This is the period when the MWL Foundation is beginning to implement the MWL YOUTH project guided by youth through the needs assessment realized in its first year. The project aims to facilitate the difficult path that the youth have to go through from unemployment to the Labour market. Its strategy starts with the identification of their individual needs and potential which are discovered through the personal interviews. This document is going to be even an educative plan which leads to work designed by each young person included in the project. For more information please read the report…
To read the whole march-may 2015 progress report read more….
To read the Youth Project latest Annual Report read here…..
To read the Youth Project concept note read here…..
To read the Youth Research report that initiated this project read here…..