Olivia arrived in Albania on Sunday June 29th from London, UK. She is a graduate student at Oxford university and came full of passion for her subject and armed with the methodology of the RENATE mapping exercise and questionnaire for the various groups. These which would be used to enable her to achieve her task.
Olivia Conroy, Researcher for Mapping Exercise: RENATE
On Monday, first thing, Olivia had a meeting with Elona Gjebrea, the deputy minister at the home office and head of the unit for Anti trafficking unit in Albania. She also met her deputy in the unit, who is an experienced police woman, who had worked face to face with the victims of trafficking in her l
Olivia Conroy, Researcher for the Mapping Exercise: RENATE
The meetings were extremely useful for Olivia who also received at this time the relevant documents related to the government referral mechanisms and strategies. We were all grateful for this opportunity. The rest of the next two days was spent with Mariana Meshi, also a member of RENATE. She is the director of Different and Equal(D&E), a shelter and rehabilitation programme for victims and survivors of trafficking. Olivia was able to accomplish the answering of half of the questionnaire during this time and both Mariana and her staff were very generous with their time and with their expertise in introducing Olivia into the world of the victim, the processes of rehabilitation and the opportunities given for work and for social businesses.
The next two days Olivia spent with the staff of Mary Ward Women, a project of Mary ward Loreto and managed by Ana Stakaj ( a member of RENATE) and Irena Kraja the coordinator in the north of Albania. Here she was introduced by Irena and Aferdita Gjoni, the social/psychologist for Kalmet (Lezhe), to the work of prevention with women from rural and isolated villages near to Shkodra and Lezhe. She met women who were setting up their own businesses in card making, agriculture and jewellry making. She also talked with the staff and understood their process for human development, health care and strategies for enabling the women to set up their own businesses. Human and Economic empowerment through freedom, justice and sincerity is the branding slogan for Mary Ward Loreto and this project is fulfilling this aim with great results. Olivia was able to see this first hand.
On the fifth day Olivia focused on child trafficking and spent her time with the project initiated by MWL in partnership with the NGO Education for Life (SHKEJ), called Little Angels. This project focuses on the families of the ethnic minorities , Roma and Egyptian and runs a centre for education and social development, for fifty children. The project also outreaches to three Roma camps where the families of the children live. The manager of the Centre, Erion Prendi and his staff helped Olivia to understand the whole phenomenon of child trafficking and gave her the relevant documents produced in Albania to combat this crime. Olivia’s report will express much of this and comment on its content, conclusions and the issues still arising for combating such a terrible form of modern day slavery.
The sixth and final day of her stay in Albania, Olivia met with Imelda Poole IBVM (Member of RENATE and President of MWL), to answer many of the questions relating to church/religious congregations and the Bishop’s conference and their response to the work of anti trafficking. The RENATE office is also based in Albania and as President of RENATE living in Albania, Imelda and Olivia discussed how this has had an impact in terms of representing RENATE at The Vatican and Brussels, and how this has informed the work of RENATE into the future. Sr Mirjam Beike, (CGS) who is leading one of the MWL projects in awareness-raising against trafficking, also represents RENATE and MWL on the EU Civil Society Platform Against Trafficking. This was discussed later in the day when we met Mirjam at the end of a training which she was leading in Fier in the south of Albania. Olivia talked of this training as being inspirational and was with 30 Roma young people, their parents and grand- parents in a tiny room with a temperature of 38 degrees. The meeting has an excellent methodology stimulating a great interaction in the group despite the heat.
Olivia and Imelda with one of the Fathers at the training in Fier
Olivia is now on her way home and has the task of writing up all her findings to be included in the Mapping Research of RENATE. Thank you Olivia for doing your job so thoroughly and thanks to all the staff and friends who enabled her to do her work for RENATE.