Earlier this year, more than 10 NGOs and international organizations in Durres, Albania collaborated with local government agencies to host a major anti-discrimination rally in the center of the city attended by several hundred people. The event was organized with the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteers Sara Babb and Kimberly Townsend with support from the city municipality, police department, public schools, and the Department of Education. The discriminated groups represented at-risk populations, including Roma, LGBT, Balkan Egyptians, people with special needs, abused women, internal migrants, economically disadvantaged, the elderly, and orphans.  Students in grades 8 - 9 were dismissed early from school so that they could march from their schools to the main square carrying messages about the need for people to respect each other and live in harmony. In the city center, the students congregated with other members of the community, including many volunteers. The mayor and several other civic leaders addressed the crowd, a group of youth preformed a choreographed dance routine, and the audience was invited to view an exposition of artwork created by marginalized groups. Following the event, the director of social service and Volunteer Sara Babb were interviewed by local media about the need to address discrimination in Albania. Sara spoke about how to spread awareness and focused on the importance of collaboration between civil society and local government as well as the need for increased integration of marginalized groups.

Earlier this year, more than 10 NGOs and international organizations in Durres, Albania collaborated with local government agencies to host a major anti-discrimination rally in the center of the city attended by several hundred people. The event was organized with the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteers Sara Babb and Kimberly Townsend with support from the city municipality, police department, public schools, and the Department of Education. The discriminated groups represented at-risk populations, including Roma, LGBT, Balkan Egyptians, people with special needs, abused women, internal migrants, economically disadvantaged, the elderly, and orphans. 

Students in grades 8 - 9 were dismissed early from school so that they could march from their schools to the main square carrying messages about the need for people to respect each other and live in harmony. In the city center, the students congregated with other members of the community, including many volunteers. The mayor and several other civic leaders addressed the crowd, a group of youth preformed a choreographed dance routine, and the audience was invited to view an exposition of artwork created by marginalized groups. 

Following the event, the director of social service and Volunteer Sara Babb were interviewed by local media about the need to address discrimination in Albania. Sara spoke about how to spread awareness and focused on the importance of collaboration between civil society and local government as well as the need for increased integration of marginalized groups.

anti-discrimination diversity LGBTQ special needs gender Albania

This year on Valentine’s Day, a group of Peace Corps Volunteers and community members in Tirana organized a One Billion Rising event aimed at raising awareness about gender-based violence in Albania, where the number of women who are violated or killed continues to increase. It started with a small group of dancers, but the numbers grew as the event continued, with young women and men joining dancing in support of such an important issue. Read more about One Billion Rising here http://onebillionrising.org/

This year on Valentine’s Day, a group of Peace Corps Volunteers and community members in Tirana organized a One Billion Rising event aimed at raising awareness about gender-based violence in Albania, where the number of women who are violated or killed continues to increase. It started with a small group of dancers, but the numbers grew as the event continued, with young women and men joining dancing in support of such an important issue. Read more about One Billion Rising here http://onebillionrising.org/

Albania One Billion Rising gender-based violence sexual assault gender Tirana Peace Corps Volunteers

In honor of Mother’s Day, we are shining the spotlight on the maternal health work our Volunteers are doing around the world. Here’s a success story from two Peace Corps Volunteers in Albania!

Two years ago, Volunteer Barbara Stallings started a prenatal education program for expectant mothers and health professionals in her community. After her close of service, it was handed over to Volunteer Jessica Goodell, who continued to develop and grow the program. 

Barbara found that the concept of childbirth education was a very novel one in her Albanian community, with many cultural barriers, leading to nervous expectant mothers who were more likely to have complications. 

To address this issue, Barbara helped facilitate a program that successfully trained one Albanian “Childbirth Educator” with a background in nursing and physical therapy to teach classes. Eleven expectant mothers and one father participated in the classes. The participation of the one father during class is a separate success story itself! 

After taking over the project, Jessica worked with Albania’s Ministry of Health, the Institute of Public Health and her local Directorate of Public Health to organize a “Childbirth Educator Training of Trainers” to increase the number of “Childbirth Educators” who can transfer skills and expand the scope of educated expectant mothers. She applied for accreditation through the Ministry of Health and was approved to conduct the training, with seven professional credit hours to incentivize health professionals to participate. 

A total of 20 health professionals (nurse-midwives, midwives, nurses, and social workers) were successfully trained. Now there are twenty-one “Childbirth Educators” prepared to teach a childbirth education class to expectant mothers in this community. 

Great job, ladies!

Peace Corps Mother's Day Peace Corps Volunteers maternal health health pregnancy prenatal care Albania mothers child health education culture public health health professionals