The International Women’s Day was different in Tropoja. An event was led by the women’s and girls’ benefit groups. Unlike other women, they were not part of the protests in search of their rights, but were part of an activity that aimed to increase self-esteem, to bring them back to how beautiful they are and how much they are able to accept themselves with praise. The women received beautician services at the hairdressers, supported by MWL. For the first time in their lives, some of them styled their hair, for others it was the first time in a long time.
During 2 days they were organized into small groups in the hairdressing salon, where besides the beautician services they also shared social time with each other. On March 8th, they gathered for a lunch together, they felt appreciated and beautiful, they danced and singed and celebrated each of their birthdays. The social exercises organized by MWL increased their joy and brought many smiles to many faces.
Poverty and being a woman in a patriarchal environment has led them to become closed and isolated, now they are relaxed and smiling again!
Women are living with dignity! They can change the world!
In recent decades the Albanian family is going through many big crises. These crises are changing the way the Albanian traditional family used to function. The extended family of grandparents, parents and nephews belongs to the past. You cannot talk anymore about the indisputable authority of the parent. The opening up of the Albanian society from a very closed family that suffered 50 years of communism into a an ‘’open’’ society means that the Albanian family has much confusion. Emigration affected the families very much where the husbands, mainly, went abroad to search for jobs and many of them broke away from their families. The deep social and economic changes happening during this transition period has created a new model of family life. The family which was considered as a holy thing is not so anymore. The increase of divorce has resulted from many deep causes such as violence, lack of economic opportunity and husbands addicted to gambling, alcohol, smoking and even more harmful drugs. All of these have led to major problems in the family which are actually destroying it.
There is a change in the way young people consider the family. To some extent some marriages take place based on economic and financial interest and there is a lack of this special bond to make the family a functioning family. A category of parents in the remote areas, living in poverty and distress, seem to have given up and their efforts to keep the family strong and united have failed.
Mary Ward Loreto Foundation is therefore working with women, with youth and with men to address their needs and to bring hope in the midst of such crisis and change. Society itself, the different faith traditions and the state, need to uphold the ethical values which have been strong among the Albanians. All stakeholders need to provide support to the family, which is the primary school of love. It is in the family that the formation and the construction of our character and relationship is formed. Everyone in society needs to contribute to the work to keep the family strong. It is the most crucial cell of society and it needs to be promoted as this in the thinking among the young generations. The family is a holy and sacred entity.
Mary Ward Loreto Women’s project continues to focus its efforts on the sustained development of women in need. Due to a joint partnership with The Red Cross Branch in Lezhe, an ongoing tailoring training with 20 women have been supported by MWL. This training has two main objectives: a. the vocational tailoring training for women and b. human development in the framework of women’s rights. The topics include training in awareness against human trafficking, safe migration and women’s health. Women at the end of the course will be equipped with certificates acknowledged by the Ministry of Finance and Economy. During this project there has been a strong collaboration with the Local Employment Inspectorate with the aim to improve the level of women’s knowledge on the steps they need to follow to become employed. These women are specifically preparing for the employment market.
In Tropoje, in the far north of mountainous region of Albania, many basic services are not accessible to the MWL beneficiaries. Therefore the need to empower and support state institutions, which should be providing community services, is one of the initiatives of MWL. This initiative increases statutory staff capacities. Consequent to this the quality of care, offered by the community services to the beneficiaries, is made better in the community. In collaboration with the Sue Ryder Foundation, MWL has begun, during this time, the first sessions of Palliative Care training with 31 participants, from the primary health care staff and from Bajram Curri hospital. This course is scheduled for 6 sessions, giving the medical staff the opportunity to receive credits and certification in the work for Palliative Care. Increasing the quality of service increases access to health needs and reduces vulnerability in the community.
Strengthening the vulnerable communities to prevent trafficking in human beings is the core focus of Mary Ward Loreto’s work. But in these distant mountainous communities, often “forgotten” by the services, there is no one responding to basic needs. The needs are many, as well as different. MWL responded to the need for women to access ophthalmic visits. This service is very limited in the Tropoja area. In cooperation with “Optika 1”, Tirana, 10 women and girls have gained a free eye examination visit. Those who had sight problems were supported with optical glasses by MWL Women. Women who were lucky also received a book from one of the opticians. We thank the staff of” Optika 1” , for their availability and human care, bringing dignity to all.
“Life through the pages of a book” is the theme for the meetings taking place with young girls and a teacher every week at the Mary Ward Loreto Center in Fier. During these meetings the young girls and those who will take the high school graduation are receiving support for their studies. A teacher is helping the group to analyze and discuss the literary and social topics raised in the books. They also choose the books which they read and share their opinions together. The comments and questions raised have made these meetings interesting and sometimes very amusing. These young girls have the potential to change their future and others through socio-economic empowerment. They feel exited and are eager to come to these meetings and are grateful for the support received in this exam preparation time.
In the framework of the Broad Based Organising initiative, Mary Ward Loreto Women of Hoti I Ri, have written a petition, addressed to the Directorate of Road Authority in Albania. In this petition we have requested an intervention for the correct maintenance of signals in the national road between Shkoder- Hot I Ri – Mes.
The lack of signs and lighting in this national cross road is seriously endangering the life of the residents of this community. This is especially true for the lives of children who attend the schools which are on the route of this crossroad.
In this road there have been many car accidents, where there has been loss of life or where people have suffered irreparable physical damage.
We have addressed this issues to the Directorate of the Road Authority, with a petition, in order to prevent other accidents. A good result will mean that residents can develop their lives normally without the fear that other lives will be put at risk.
We are waiting and hoping for a positive response. We are taking some photos of the road condition, such as damage to signaling and other situations. These will be the necessary evidence which will show the true reality.