Mary Ward Loreto has begun a new collaboration with the Sole NGO who run a project in the women’s jail IEVP, Nr. 325 Ali Demi, Tirane. The Sole project is for the reintegration into the community for imprisoned women. This is through developing employment skills and through human development programmes. MWL was invited to give their contribution and expertise with women inside the jail. The psychologist of MWL Women ACT is offering trainings and self-help group facilitation once a week. These have started with 10 women. The main aim of these sessions is the rehabilitation of the women so they have a successful reintegration into society after their release and to enable them to live their lives in a more meaningful and adjusted way.
Prisons in Albania emphasize punishment to make up for the crime and not education or amelioration. These women come from different areas of Albania with different cultures, different social issues and different approaches for facing life and problems. They have coped with different external and internal issues which have led to their criminal activity. They have poor coping mechanisms therefore face them with frustration while interacting with each other. In a two months period of time the sessions have been focused on providing an understanding of self-help groups, positive group dynamics and a sense of belonging to the group. These sessions offer the members a safe non-judgmental environment for self-disclosure where they can learn to explore themselves and share their stories, their feelings, and their issues. They are entering into e process of recovery and need to strengthen mutual support for each other.
Every Monday, the prisoners from Fush Kruje are very happy to know that at 11:00 they will have a visit from representatives of the project MWL Men. The conditions in Albanian prisons are miserable, lacking basic elements like drinking water or normal environments to sleep. Social services or recreational activities are very low. The presence of our foundation enables the prisoners to know they are not forgotten. It gives the men in the prison an incentive to survive and to forget the daily stress and trauma. A group of about 20 of the prisoners are part of the weekly meetings in which various problems are treated within the premises of the prison. They also tackle issues related to the larger society, sharing their common experience in discussion. MWL Men have the opportunity to undertake different initiatives to enable the people serving prison sentences, become more engaged in what is a very stifled environment. Often movies are shown with themes enabling the men to express their feelings, ideas and impressions of life as they see it. MWL Men intends to continue these activities and to expand them even more. “After you come to help in these prisons, you feel more than ever the need for MWL Men’s workers to be there at the time of such difficulty in the lives of these men.”