Feast Day 8 February 2019: International Day of Prayer and Awareness against human trafficking. “TOGETHER against human trafficking”. 8th February, 2019.
In light of St. Bakhita Day, the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against human trafficking, a meeting was held with youth from the Diocese of Lezhe . The story of Josephine Bakhita was shared, and the youth heard of the exploitation she suffered from the age of seven, being sold and resold five times. St. Bakhita lived in the 18th century, but stories like hers are still happening today. We cannot fight the terrible crime of Modern-Day Slavery unless we unite and work together.
“Together against human trafficking” is our appeal to every teacher, every social worker, every governmental and nongovernmental worker, and to every leader. We need to address this terrible crime together, to provide better opportunities for education, employment, and safety for the vulnerable and trafficked.
The meeting with the youth was closed in hope with a prayer against human trafficking.
European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, 1 February 2019.
In light of it being European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Mary Ward Loreto partnered with the Health Promotion and Education Office of Lezhe to organize an awareness activity with women working at the livestock processing factory in Lezhe .The women who work at the factory travel from remote surrunding areas to provide income for their families.
The training focused on the importance of sanitization and prevention through regular health screenings. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer globally and is a leading cause of death in many developing countries. According to the Albanian Institute of Public Health, Albania has a reported 100 new cases every year. Half of the cases are diagnosed when the cancer is at an advanced level, when treatment is very expensive and less effective.
The women were taught about how HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is transmitted and how to prevent it. (HPV is the virus that can lead to cervical cancer.)
Screening is a very important component of prevention and the women were encouraged to have screenings every year. The Ministry of Health has launched a free screening program nationwide and the women were given information about how to benefit from this free service.
When women’s health is made a priority, communities and economies thrive. This is one more step we are taking for women’s rights and equality in Albania.
GLOW CAMP, July 2018.
GLOW (Girls Lead Our World) Camp is an activity which takes place every year with Kallmet girls in joint partnership with peace Corps volunteers. Girls are encouraged to “glow”. Activities with girls age 14-16 aim at helping them understand their values and skills, building up their skills, and motivating them to make best use of these to overcome life challenges. The camp includes health education topics about girls’ health, teaching them techniques on how to avoid everyday life stress and how to manage it. They also learn how to identify community assets and how to promote them for tourism purposes. The camp offers plenty of fun activities too; yoga, an educational film, and volleyball. These activities ensure that the girls have fun and are entertained since their everyday lives lack such kind of services. We believe that by investing in girls we’re investing in the future of Albanian society, in the work place, successful mothers in the home and educators of coming generations.
The challenges from being disempowered to being empowered!
The above statement is a statement that the MWL Women’s Project is dedicated to and which is becoming a reality in so many women’s lives. The Mary Ward Loreto Women’s Project works with the most vulnerable women in remote areas where women and girls want to take control of their lives. When they were young girls, the families didn’t invest in them; the only opportunity given to them was marriage; not education, not vocational training. No thought was given to how these young girls would overcome life challenges when they eventually became mothers. MWLW Project is helping to create an environment where women feel free to make decisions at home, even the decision to work. MWLW has undertaken this mission to help these women change their circumstances from unempowered to empowered, helping women to claim their rights through human development and the facilitation of employment.
Broad Based Organising, (BBO) initiative undertaken by Women’s Network of Lezha.
Mary Ward Loreto is open to continue collaborating with the local state structures by providing support in the sector of tourism in certain areas. The aim is to impact women’s lives and children’s lives and to help them to promote better employment opportunities especially to vulnerable people. This would be a means of preventing human trafficking.
General profile of women in Albania represented by women’s group of Kallmet, Lezhe.
Additionally, problems such as poverty, unemployment, discrimination in the workforce, barriers to the education and access to health services, as well insufficient representation in the decision-making process, have been exacerbated. Mary Ward Loreto Women project is trying hard to address the social and developmental issues faced by women in these communities. In addition to trainings regarding women’s rights, gender roles and child rearing, women are now participating in economic activities to improve the financial situation for their families. Women are learning from training and from each other’s experiences. The women recently completed 234 jackets for the school children of IBVM in Spain. This doesn’t address all the women’s needs but the women appreciate such opportunity as a little encouragement for their lives.
Quotes from women: “Now I have a different life, I get out of my house in the morning and I have objectives for the day”; “I am learning new skills which are opening new opportunities for my life”. “I have a better time thanks to my friends with whom I work with”.
This has all been made possible thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners and is highly appreciated by the women benefiting from the projects.
Training of school psychologists on Human Anti Trafficking
Tackling human anti-trafficking continues to be one of the main priorities of MWL. In this framework, in order to build up the awareness of staff who deal with the education of the younger generation, a training was organized with the school psychologists of the Lezha region on April 12, 2016. Some school directors and vice school directors of the most problematic high schools, where trafficked victims have been identified, attended the training as well. The participants were from Lezha, Mirdita and Kurbin district and 18 of them attended the training including the person in charge of Psychological Services in the Regional Education Department of Lezha. The training was organized in collaboration with Different & Equal as a specialised partner of MWL on human anti-trafficking.
The aim of the training was that the school psychologists get to know more about this phenomenon; to get acquainted to the national and international legislation against human trafficking. Furthermore the school psychologists and the social workers were introduced to the recently approved law on the duties and responsibilities of the psychologist and social workers regarding the identification and reporting of possible cases of trafficked victims. During the training the attendants presented the challenges which they face living in small cities where everyone knows everyone else. Even though they report the possible doubted cases, the police do not really follow rigorous investigation procedures in the cases. This training served to set up a network. The attendees were equipped with the required reporting forms and the collaboration will be ongoing since the age groups from 14 -18 year olds with whom they work are the age group at high risk of being trafficked in Albania.
WHY an Agriculture Initiative?
The women of Kallmet, in the district of Lezha, lack education and skills to find work. They are mostly skilled in agriculture and livestock. Referring to the advice of a local agriculture specialist made available to the project by the commune, the women agreed to plant Kallmet beans. This product keeps the name of the village. The objective of the initiative was to promote the cultivation of local products which relate historically and agriculturally to the village. This initiative has been a great success and all the beans have been sold in the market. Now the women have decided to develop this initiative with a new harvest of beans.
New office in Lezha
Mary Ward Loreto foundation is expanding the areas of intervention and is working to empower each human being with whom we work. Our actions are mostly focused on the most vulnerable people in the remote communities where we’re supporting them to grow as humans but as well we’re supporting them to grow as members of family and as members of community. We’re especially supporting the women to improve their financial situation in their families . By combining all these actions the project is trying to strengthen the women’s roles not just only in the family but gradually even in the community. The quote of Mary Ward “In the future the women will do much more ” finds place at all times but still even today there is an enormous need for women to do much , much more to provide their support , their strengths, to contribute to a better society and to a better world. Mary Ward Loreto Women project has a new office in Lezha and with the opening of new office the project staff aims to lobby about women’s rights at another level. Young women ,educated and who have special roles in the community have approached to the project and gradually the project aims to lobby together with these women about balancing gender roles , fighting corruption , to fight violence towards women and trying to build a better environment where their children grow aware of the risks of being exploited and trafficked , in a world where man and women enjoy equal rights .
GLOW Camp (Girls Leading Our World)
The Glow Camp was an initiative undertaken in collaboration with the Peace Corps Volunteer service in Lezhe . Thanks to several meetings and discussion a wonderful meeting was organised according to the girls needs in these rural areas. The aim of Glow Camp was not only to involve the young girls but to ensure that their involvement was meaningful. The camp aimed at building up the girls’ self-esteem, to help them appreciate themselves, their skills and everything that they are able to do. Through activities and games, Mary Ward Loreto Women project aimed at increasing the young girl’s awareness of the fact that they are little leaders today and by learning what their rights are and how valuable they are to the community, they will learn that tomorrow they will become the future leaders of the society.
The Beans of Kallmet – New beginnings in Lezhe, the way forward for this region
MWW project located in Kallmet of Lezha district has focused its efforts to improve women’s lives in three dimensions including human and social development and improving the level of incomes for women through the undertaking of economic initiatives. Women lack education and vocational trainings and as result they lack employment. They are mostly skilled in agriculture and livestock. The women engaged in agriculture projects, even though they live in a village area, either lack land or they own very small surfaces of land. Based on their existing experiences, the women’s group has agreed to undertake an agriculture initiative. Upon the advice of agriculture specialists and project staff the women agreed to plant Kallmet beans which is a well-known agriculture product in the area. This product enhances the name of the village and the objective of the initiative was to promote the cultivation of local products which relate historically and agriculturally to the village. These beans are now being sold in the most prestigious restaurants in the area. Furthermore the learning experiences of working with women indicated that only by working in the field can you address the needs of small groups of women in order to really impact the women’s lives. Besides this grass root work it is indispensable to work with institutions such as Social Services, the Employment Office and the Municipality. In order to address women’s needs both work needs to be at grass root level and for systemic change it needs to be developed at decision taking level through the collaboration with local institutions. Together we will aim to sustain change in women’s lives Mary Ward Loreto Women Project is in these months expanding and opening a new office in Lezhe to work in different levels for this systemic change.