The theme for Bakhita day in February, 2018, drew many people to the cathedral of St Paul in the heart of Tirana, Albania.  ‘’Say YES to Freedom and No to slavery: Migration without Trafficking.’’ This concerns us all in every corner of the world.  Here in Albania we have refugee camps and the country struggles to bring real justice to the many people coming through our borders. Thousands of Albanians are now refugees all over Europe and some are caught up in the nightmare of human trafficking. This day led us to focus on the details and the suffering joining with all in the shame of such a global crime. Both the Archbishop of Tirana, George Frendo OP and the Government Minster against Human Trafficking, Rovena Voda, spoke movingly and with passion during this service, highlighting the many issues related to Human Trafficking and reflecting the stories which lead to such trauma.

 

 

The service in Albania involved a call to action. MWL followed this call by gathering the goods needed for the local refugee camp near to Tirana.  On March 6th, in collaboration with the director of the refugee camp, six of MWL staff went in two cars, loaded with goods for the camp. These included, new trainers, clothes and kitchen equipment.  All these were requested by the centre staff. At present there are 94 refugees in the camp, 34 of which were from Syria and newly arrived in the centre. One of them came up to Imelda and asked for a sweater which made us realise how cold they must feel in the damp climate presently experienced in Albania .

The pictures of the evening, focusing on this issue, reflect very much the mood of the evening. Whilst the pictures form the newly refurbished centre express the care which Albania is taking to look after their refugees. The budget is small but the overall involvement of UNHCR and other organisations is making the future of this centre a primary focus.