02 October 2012 Fushe-Kruje, Albania [Lydia Weidner, tedNEWS] ADRA Albania has successfully launched the “Reflect! Act! Integrate” Training Centre in Fushe-Kruje, 25 km from Albania’s capital, Tirana. Kindly sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Austria, the projects aims to combat illiteracy among the largely marginalised Roma populations.
In the opening ceremony, Dr Beatrice C. Kastrati, ADRA Albania Country Director, welcomed distinguished officials including His Excellency, Mr Florian Raunig, Ambassador of Austria, Mr Erik Tintrup, Vice Ambassador of Germany, Ms Filloreta Kodra, Vice Minister of Labour, Mr Ardian Came, Vice Minister of Education, as well as Ms Wein and Mr Qosja from ADA.
Dr Kastrati also welcomed other important stakeholders of the project such as UNDP, Amarodrom, Terre des Hommes, Save the Children. In a strong show of support for ADRA Albania, a delegation from the Adriatic Union Conference (AUC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as well as the Albanian Mission (ALM), headed by Pastor Branko Bistrovic, AUC President, was also present in the opening ceremony.
In her welcoming address Dr Kastrati expressed her deep appreciation for the Austrian Embassy and ADA for their generous support on behalf of Roma women, men and youth who desperately need literacy and social integration into the wider Albanian society. Dr Kastrati then shared a touching story, as she described the birth of the project idea back in 2009 when an elderly Roma woman asked ADRA to teach her reading and writing so she could sign a contract.
In his address, Ambassador Raunig, expressed words of appreciation for ADRA Albania. In a wider context, the Ambassador stressed that EU Integration commences inside the country from the bottom up, building peace within the community before integrating into society, and then society integrating into the world.
Vice Minister Came pointed out in his address that the integration of Roma children into the public school is an excellent example for the whole country, a goal the Albanian government has been working towards for many years. He emphasised the key role of women, especially mothers in child rearing in the development of society. He assured ADRA of continuing support and cooperation in part of the Ministry of Education.
“ADRA Albania is well-known to the Ministry of Labour through many years of service to the vulnerable communities and we look forward to many years of cooperation in the future,” said Ms. Kodra, Vice Minister of Labour. She commended ADRA’s efforts to prepare Roma adults for vocational training courses offered by the government and promised cooperation in the creation of needs assessments of the Roma communities.
Ms. Erinda Toska, in charge of implementation, proceeded to introduce the project specifically, listing all problems the Roma people face in their everyday life, such as poverty, disease, confinement of women, unemployment and presented the results of the pilot project and the action steps towards the new project.
On behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and ADRA’s Board of Directors, Pastor Bistrovic expressed the Church’s appreciation and continuous support for such fine and humane initiatives. “Our mission is to serve others in the community, especially catering to those who are underprivileged and discriminated,” said Pastor Bistrovic.
The meeting was concluded with a visit of the Austrian Ambassador, ADA and other officials to the project centre. In this centre, Roma women, men, youth and teenagers will have the opportunity to receive training as well as participate in group discussions on sensitive topics such as healthy lifestyle, early marriage, family planning, sexually-transmitting diseases, employment and education.
Later that day, Dr Kastrati, along with AUC and ALM administrators, met with Albania’s Prime Minister, Prof Dr Sali Berisha, who expressed his deep appreciation for what ADRA Albania has done on behalf of the Albanian people. ADRA was the first non-for-profit organisation that entered post-communist Albania. Its leader at the time, Pastor John Arthur, OBE, was decorated in 1994 with the country’s highest medal, “The Mother Teresa Order”.
More information about this project can be found at http://reflectadraalbania.blogspot.com
For more information about ADRA Albania please visit http://www.adra.al [tedNEWS]