Santa’s sack full of hope.
During the Christmas season everybody seems happier and more enthusiastic than during the rest of the year. Our cities are brighter than ever during the evenings and the streets, full of people, add to the decorations. It looks like the world is perfect. I believe this is the feeling for most of the people who will read this article. At the same time, I think of the feelings of our beneficiaries in remote areas who can only reach this atmosphere through TV, if they are lucky enough to have one. Do they feel the same enthusiasm and atmosphere?
According to a survey (Gallup, November 2018) 79% of young Albanians from 15 to 29 years old want to permanently leave Albania. This is the highest rate in the world, with a marked difference from all other countries, including those in armed conflicts. This means that something must change in our country, and we have to work hard with all actors and factors to change this trend. MWL Men’s project has implemented a very simple and at the same time a very innovative program during the last year in Albania, trying to build peace and prosperity within Albanian families. According to our reports and periodic evaluations, we are sure that this program is making the change needed for the vulnerable groups we work with. This change in men’s behavior and development is a new approach for some, and a new perspective or a new chance for others, but for somebody else this program has brought forth a new start or a new life.
Merry Christmas to you, our dear friends. May you feel the love during this special season.
Gender Based Violence Training in Iballe, Puka.
In September, 10 men from Iballe village in Puka attended a training on Gender Based Violence. This gathering was full of emotional testimony and meaningful and difficult discussion. For the first time in our years of delivering this training, the men had the courage to speak truthfully about the reality of the situation and gave arguments as to why harmful traditional behaviors are still justified and embraced by communities. The training helped draw the men’s attention to the long-term consequences of domestic violence and gender-based violence in the wellbeing of not only the individual but also the family as a unit. The methodology used was selected very carefully in order to show empathy for our beneficiaries and to make them aware of the complex nature of the phenomenon. We discussed cases where they themselves could be victims of gender based violence, helped build their knowledge about the cycle of violence, and taught them how to improve their relationships in their families and take the first step towards change.
The last exhibition held in Puka’s House of Culture was in 1991. This house was named during the communist regime and for the last 27 years nothing new or innovative has been found in the house, only a few old statues and pieces of furniture covered in a thick layer of dust.
70% of Puka’s population has left and when asked about their future, a majority of those still left are planning to move.
Due to a large amount of money invested in the last two years by the government, the city has a new face. The plan for the investments is in its last stage of work. Everything looks new and bright, but when you see people walking down the new white walkway of the city, you won’t see many bright and happy expressions. Viktor, a citizen of Puka, told us his story of unemployment and living off of the social services of the municipality. He explained that he may only have 50 Euro per month to live on “…but now I can walk in Rome,” he said, showing us the new square. The people of Puka are tired. They are not used to living in a city where the outside of the buildings are a dream while the inside holds hundreds of challenges; how do I feed my family? How do I educate my children? How do I move forward?
Last spring, Mary Ware Loreto Foundation launched a new project in Puka, with a course for crafting wood and learning the art of pyrography. In the launch of this project, two objectives were in mind; to offer economic empowerment for participants to sell their crafts and to offer Puka an opportunity to develop her beauty, art, and culture.
We are happy to announce that both of the objectives have been accomplished.
Four students are selling their products to tourists and visitors. Only 4 months ago, one of them was working as a shepherd; he is now working full-time in a provisory room, producing beautiful artistic crafts and souvenirs.
Now we can proudly say that the last artistic exhibition held in the House of Culture was not in 1991, but in September of 2018. With the support of MWL Foundation, 4 students and their instructor had the chance to show the city their art and passion. 120 pieces of artwork decorated the old House of Culture, bringing joy and hope to the city which has only seen exhibitions like this on television. More than 100 people attended the event, including the Mayor, representatives from the government, members of the Academy of Arts in Tirana, and other intellectuals who expressed highest acclaims to the Foundation and encouragement to the students who received their certificates signed by the President of Mary Ward Loreto Foundation, Ms. Imelda Poole.
MWL is working hard to bring the brightness of the new squares of Albania into people’s lives. We fight for them to have more opportunity, dignity, and a new future.
Every kind of support helps us achieve this mission. Join us today!