A break-in that resulted in the loss of a freezer full of food, among other things, has had the consequence of galvanising an isolated Albanian Roma community into action. The theft occurred in early February, and left staff at the Children’s Centre in Peqin wondering how to replace the lost appliance and the months’ worth of meat that was in it. The meat was intended to help feed the 45 children who attend the centre every day. These meals are crucial, as many of the children are from extremely poor families, who can barely afford one meal a day.
After meeting with parents to explain the situation, staff were amazed at the response from the community. “This centre is for the whole community! So we have to keep it together and protect it together”, explained Elona Deliu, who works for A2B, FSCI’s partner in Albania. “Even though we know this community is poor we want to treat them with dignity, and therefore we asked them to contribute with their own finances, to buy together the things that were stolen. Their reaction was astonishing; they all offered to help even though this would mean real sacrifice for them!”
The food has all been replaced and a generous FSCI supporter covered the cost of the freezer, so the children can once again benefit from the regular meals being provided by the centre. A local church paid to replace the heaters that had been taken.
The Roma community in Peqin has been isolated for decades and A2B were the first NGO to establish any projects there. The Children’s Centre aims to increase access to school for marginalised Roma children through its kindergarten and after-school support programmes – so enabling them to escape poverty and isolation through education. After one year of operations the A2B team are seeing real change and although the break-in looked like a setback it has served to inspire the community to action and sown a seed of cohesion where before there was discord.
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