Engaging youth to achieve development goals in Albania
15 December 2006
Tirana, Albania: Dozens of students from different high schools and representatives from volunteer-involving organizations and institutions from Tirana participated in events marking International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December.
While the Albanian Red Cross hosted a round table discussion on volunteerism in the country, students from A.Z. Çajupi School, the Institute of the Blind, and other children from disadvantaged backgrounds participated in theatre and music performances, a volunteerism fair and environmental activities.
The activities started off with environmental education for the students of A.Z. Cajupi school given by the Regional Environmental Center (REC). Together with representatives from five other local high schools, the students painted the wall of the schoolyard and planted a symbolic MDG tree in the nearby Tirana Lake Park. The MDGs are a set of time-bound objectives that, among others, aim to end extreme poverty and improve health, education, gender equality and environmental sustainability by 2015.
Posters and paintings on volunteerism and MDG related topics were prepared, which were subsequently displayed at the volunteerism fair.
In the ‘Pyramid’ centre, more than 400 children gathered to watch the performances of theatre sketches, poems, dances and music. Each performance had a theme based on one of the MDGs. Five artists from the Qendra Nderkombetare e Kultures (QNK – International Centre of Culture) had prepared the show with the students throughout November. QNK, together with the Tirana Education Directorate, voluntarily hosted and supported the project.
Mujë Buçpapaj, Director of QNK, said that he was “very glad to see the children coming and going for their rehearsals.” “It doesn’t happen often that we host events with such special children - they are amazing and an inspiration to us all”, he added.
Reihan Shkreta, Director of the Institute for the Blind, stated that “the children were happier than anyone could imagine. I am sure that the day will remain in their memories for a long time.”
At the same time, the volunteerism fair displayed drawings and posters which had been prepared by the students of A.Z. Cajupi school, the Institute for the Blind, the Institute for the Deaf and Mute, “Zyber Hallulli” Orphanage and Bajram Curri School.
UNV and other volunteer organizations took part in the exhibition, documenting their activities and distributing promotional material.
While the youth activities were going on, representatives from UNV, Albanian Youth Council, Albanian Red Cross (ARC), Civil Society Development Centre, ILO, MJAFT! Movement, REC Albania, as well as the Youth Council of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports met to discuss the future of volunteerism in Albania. Main topic was the need for a volunteerism law and the adaption of volunteering models from the communities.
Among the participants was Prof. Zyhdi Dervishi, Social Sciences Faculty Professor. He underlined the importance of volunteer action and civic engagement as a potential for social and economic changes in a country. “Albania has always had a good spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy”, he said. “The legal base for supporting the volunteers and volunteer action is existing, but there is a need to implement these laws and amendments.”
Mr. Gjolek Mera, Executive Director of the Civil Society Development Centre, pointed to the need to recognize volunteers and their contribution to development. “There is a real need to value the role of volunteers in Albania and in general in the Balkans,” added Ms. Zofia Cierzniak, a Polish volunteer within the European Voluntary Service programme, working at the Youth Police Department at the MTCYS.
The events were complimented by TV and radio broadcasts on six channels that introduced IVD and presented ongoing activities; such as “Radio Tirana”, which dedicated one hour to broadcast a feature on volunteerism, civil society and active citizenship in Albania.