The month of May demanded a complete change of temperature in the activities and then in facing so many new things during this time. We had the informal opening of two new Mary Ward Loreto centres in the South of Albania with great rejoicing on the part of so many. We also had two visitors to stay with us in Albania. Sr Anna Hawkes came from the CJ province in England for three weeks and Pete Thompson, the son of great friends in the UK, came for the two months of May and June. We also had Katholikentag in Germany. Before this there was a trip to Austria to give a training day to a group of donors plus various meetings regarding our funding. In the middle of the month I was engaged in a webinar with four schools from around the world for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Mike Emberson came later in the month for a flying visit from the Medaille trust in the UK to see the project we are partnered with in the south of Albania. He also needed to sign the final contract between Mary Ward Loreto and the Medaille Trust cementing this work together. As they say, ‘’It was all going on!!’’ We also celebrated a webinar across the Institute for the launching of the next stages in the preparation for GC14. Lastly I flitted to Dublin for the night to interview the applicants for the post of communications officer for RENATE!
At every level May was a month of action!
A social worker was appointed to work in the informal areas of Tirana. In a period of two months she has been assessing the possibility to apply MWW intervention in an area, south east of Tirana called Uzina e Traktoreve. This area consists of a migrant population from the northern regions of Albania and the poverty rate is very high. Some training was accomplished and relationships with some of the women were forged. However the assessment analysis showed that in this area there were other NGO’s who were applying their strategies and so it was decided not to interfere and to look for other areas where MWW was needed the most. In the end of December, an invitation was made by the Dominican sisters of Catherine of Siena to work with the mothers of the children who are attending their kindergarten in the area of Breglumas. This area is very needy and there is a potential of 30 women to work with. This new Tirana social worker has started the need assessment process in the area of Breglumas working closely with the sisters who are resident in this place. A new MWL centre has been rented in the area and trainings are being developed.
The new MWL Centre in Breglumas, Tirana
The MWW worker is supporting the women to find a job, vocational training and to overcome their boundaries. These are more linked with passivity and lack of self esteem.
MWL employed two more new social workers & psychologists for developing the work in Shendelli (Saint Ilia) and Fier with the women’s project MWW. A week of induction was organized for the new MWW workers. They were helped to understand the vision, mission and methodology of MWL in supporting those in need towards personal
empowerment. The training was based on the methodology of human development and the understanding of basic concepts in social business for empowering the women.
There were many words to read in the news from the month of April so for this month let’s say it in pictures!
Let’s begin with the opening of the centre in the south of Albania in Fier:
Pjeter putting up the new Sign in Fier
Aferdita the new Social/Psychologist
The Beginnings of the Flower Growing Business with the women in Fier
The new centre in Shendelli to be refurbished by June:
Zana the new social/psycholgist for Shendelli
Gazi Mema who had started his employment with Mary Ward Loreto in March was now launching out into many areas of Albania. The new youth project was launched in March and now in May after all the planning and the development of the research programme for youth in Albania and the finalizing of the marketing materials, Gazi was continuing to be out in the field fulfilling the action of 1,000 questionnaires answered by the youth:
Gazi working with one of the youth groups
The URAT project was also going from strength to strength and by the end of May they had visited nearly 20 regions of Albania training in awareness raising against trafficking in human persons:
RENATE in Katholikentag Regensburg, Germany
Below is the report on this event written by our newly appointed communications person for RENATE. It will explain all of the pictures.
May 28th – June 1st, 2014.
“More than 1,000 individual events combine to make the German Katholikentag a place of bridge-building; on behalf of society, faith and community . Being a Christian means dedicating oneself out of faith in God and Church and Society. Every Katholikentag is a platform for political, social and Church dialogue…”(Bridges of Encounter and Change; Katholikentag 2014).
The above quotation set the expectations for the Katholikentag of 2014. The founders set the bar to a high standard , which was lived up-to throughout the five days of the event.
At Katholikentag RENATE walked, worked and prayed in a place in which faith was enabled, encouraged, modelled, facilitated and taught. Hundreds upon hundreds of stalls and bright white tents were decked out colourfully and plentifully, welcoming and inviting us in, to engage, discuss, share and learn, affording us first-hand and memorable experiences of the diversity of life in Catholicism and in the contemporary Church.
RENATE is a European network of religious and lay people, committed to supporting each other in working against human trafficking and exploitation. RENATE was established to;
- Develop awareness-raising activities against human trafficking and the growing demand within all levels of society in Europe, using all forms of modern technology and communications.
- Network, share resources, skills and knowledge.
- Research and implement actions against the growing demand for such abuse in the countries of origin and destination.
At Katholikentag, we came to learn and to share the work of RENATE and to involve more people in working together against the trafficking in human persons. We shook hands with hundreds of people from all sections of the church, shared meals with complete strangers who soon became friends and talked for hours with those equally passionate about Catholic Social Teaching and the journey of faith we are on, young and old alike; a journey of building bridges between God and humankind.
The intensity of such dialogue took us to places where we would rather not go; presented us with challenges and inevitably demanded that we give without limit as Christ himself gave for us.
Despite the incessant rain, we enjoyed the varied programmes of religious music, new music, pop, exhibitions, tours, cabarets, readings and Liturgies – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Ecumenical.
We braved the rain and joined the thousands celebrating Mass at the University Stadium to commemorate Ascension Thursday. It was a fitting prelude to the presentations and workshops held that afternoon, with our own RENATE-Europe presentation staged from 14.00 to 15.30. The very attentive audience present clearly appreciated that very careful and thorough research had been done in order that a seamless presentation was achieved. The topic was Human Trafficking in Europe and from the Opening Address presented by the RENATE President, Sr. Imelda Poole, IBVM, through to the contribution of various other members of RENATE, there was a clarity of message and content maintained throughout the proceedings. Sr. Dagmar Plum MMM, the RENATE member from Germany, chaired the proceedings and gave input on her work with the Jesuit refugee service in Berlin, alongside other members who shared their local story of work in this field. It both challenged and invited those present, to think about what the presentation said to them as a group of audience members and invited their consideration and agency, in working as a network…the potential and the power of possibility.
We were blessed to have been joined by a five-person, male Acapella, who complimented the presenters with their selections of contemporary music and lyrics, ranging from Cold Play’s “Paradise” through to Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluiah” which concluded the proceedings. It also probably reflected the sheer relief of all five presenters to have completed that afternoon’s work! They did a magnificent job, sensitively speaking about the work of anti-trafficking across Europe and all the while, placing at the centre, the care of the victims.
Jesus revealed much about the reign of God through the Parables that He told. Amongst the most important are those that speak of extending the hand of friendship to others in need. The most obvious one that comes to mind, is the parable of The Good Samaritan. The ministry of RENATE-Europe is to be The Good Samaritan. Others have, and will continue to turn a blind eye and walk away from the challenges of Human Trafficking and the exploitation of one’s fellow human being, but RENATE is steadily sowing the seeds of a courageous stance, to work against Human Trafficking in Europe and maintain the dignity of the human person.
Imagination is the eye of the soul, according to Joseph Joubert and one of the great human realities is that we have the capacity for rich imaginings. It is a powerful source, which is often harnessed for good, but also often harnessed for less laudable purposes. Katholikentag provided us with a rich opportunity for networking and the opportunity to create new relationships, shared learnings and shared language codes with which to articulate our ministry.
…In the community
Everyone has a thousand hands
Everyone has a thousand feet,
No-one ever walks alone. (Patrice Koyo, Cameroon).
Anne Kelleher, Communications person.
June 5th, 2014.
During this time there were also some very special visitors staying in the flat with me. Sr Anna Hawke CJ came for three weeks and mainly focused on the mission with the women in the rural and informal regions. It was so good to share the mission with Anna as a Mary Ward Sister who was so keen on all that was happening in the country and stepped out with such vigour sometimes with two sticks to guide her path. She only needed the hat and she could have been mistaken for Mary Ward!
Pete Thompson has been here for two months. He is from the UK and a son of a great family living in the NE of England who were close friends when we were on mission there 9 years ago. Pete is on the far right in the picture above. Pete stayed with the Mother Teresa sisters whilst with us but did a huge variety of voluntary work all over the country.
Bill Morrell is working here in Albania for two years as a consultant with the Police at the USA embassy. He came for dinner with Sr Anna and Pete.