International Event in Albania - April 2022

Between 11 and 13 April 2022, Udhetim i Lire hosted the seventh international meeting of 13 European cities involved in the European Alliance for Volunteer Support.

Between 11 and 13 April 2022, the 7th international event of the ERAS project, implemented by the Civil Resource Centre, took place. Udhetim I Lire, our project partner from Durres, Albania, hosted the event. The meeting was dedicated to getting to know the good practices of volunteering in tourism and the opportunities offered by the European Solidarity Corps program.

On the first day, representatives of partner organizations from Slovenia, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and North Macedonia, visited the City Youth Center. There they met young volunteers who are engaged in various activities carried out by Udhteim i Lire. The representative of the Nishtulla Community Center, Ms Bledina Bushi, also shared her experience with the participants. They learned that in the past, the word volunteering used to describe unpaid work in state institutions. Because of this, Albania still faces the consequences of the negative perception of this word among the inhabitants. Through hard work, they combined education and volunteering, thus achieving that young people now perceive volunteering as something positive. The young volunteers present confirmed her words and confided that they see volunteering as an opportunity for additional education, upgrading of existing skills and an employment opportunity. Blerina Reci, a professor at Aleksandër Moisi University, pointed out that many of their graduates found employment in the non-governmental sector. She attributes this to the fact that volunteering is a mandatory part of their studies, which leaves a deep impression on students.

Klevi Elezi, a youth activist, shared his experience volunteering in various youth activities, emphasizing the presentation of the program aimed at education and tourism development. As part of this program, designed in Udhetim and Lire, young people produced a tourist guide for the cities of Durrës and Kruja and learned the skills of tourist management. Youth tourist guides gave participants a walking tour of both cities, and they learned about the effects of this program first-hand.

Participants were impressed by how non-governmental organizations in Durrës connect with educational institutions, the economic sector and local authorities, thus holistically tackling tourism development. The representative of the Albanian Railways, Eneida Elezi, presented a program in which, with the help of volunteers, they promote sustainable mobility and the railway museum among citizens and tourists. The foundation of connecting all actors is to format and develop communities and the creation of better conditions for life. Participants spoke with representatives of the Municipality of Durrës, Albanian Railways, the Day Center for Children and Adolescents with Developmental Difficulties and the Aleksandër Moisiu University about what role volunteering plays in this. Everyone was united in the opinion that volunteering is positive for both the community of volunteers and all areas where volunteers work. The representative of the municipality, Mr Adrian Gurra, highlighted the role of volunteers in response to the 2019 earthquake, the Covid-19 pandemic and the floods. The three most devastating crises in the country in the last three decades. According to him, this was a foremost factor in recognizing the positive impacts of volunteering in the community.

The meeting ended in the city of Kavaja. In Kavaja, participants exchanged views on community development through volunteering and experiences of cooperation between non-governmental organizations, volunteers and local authorities in a lively debate with the representatives of the local authority. Finally, the volunteers and the local authorities visited the Njujarat E Jetes Day Center for children and adolescents with problems in development. The centre is an admirable example of the cooperation of local authorities, non-governmental organizations and volunteers in Kavaja.

Participants left the meeting full of pleasant impressions and heaps of good practices they can share with others and transfer to their environment. Learning and sharing good practices and connecting on common topics is also the purpose of the Europe for Citizens program. Follow the Facebook page of the ERAS project, where we will share volunteer stories and good practices from other European countries.



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