"Holy Mary" Center
"Holy Mary" center is a concrete example of education and integration of children with difficulties in Lezha. This is a social care center in Lezha that focuses its activities on children in trouble, above all on children of Roma and Egyptian communities.
motto of the center is "Only through education can we dream, seek our rights and be equal!" The center is open and operating since 2004. Thanks to this center, 171 children attend school today mostly of Roma and Egyptian communities. It is the only of its kind in the city of Lezha. The center is licensed by the NLC.
Its objective is education through school and the abolition of begging on the streets from these children that are a likely contingent to be part of this problem in the city of Lezha.
Without fear we can say that most of these children are if they had not the continuity in this center will be begging in the streets of Lezha. Thanks to this center children who begon the streets of Lezha are not a persistent problem. There is sporadic secret begging but discontinuous in time.
The problem of begging in Lezha is more of adults (mothers). This happens despite the fact that the representatives of the centre at the start of school year sign a contract with parents (Agreementfor your child) which states that if a child goes begging and then found;this child can not become part of this center and can not profit from the monthly benefit from the center –a plus motive that pushes children to help their family with this financial assistance. The number of children who are involved in this project is growing. The head of the center Z.Luciano Levri(marianist missionary) has provided a valuable commitment to the progress of the center, and his insistence made this center to resist challenges faced and so strongly believe in his dream on the integration of these children. So that intervention maybe as early as possible, this center has created the opportunity to cover expenses for 15 children in crèche and for 53 children in kindergarten from Roma and Egyptian communities.
Activities and services offered by this center include:
- Enrollment in state schools of children of Roma, Egyptians and other children from poor families, control and verification of attendance and performance at school through some cultural mediators and teachers of the center;
- 2 Hours activity after school, three times a week, to help these children fulfill their duties in their school engagement;
- Monthly financial support for children attending the center (3000ALL each child);
- Didactic support tools, books, notebooks, bags, etc.;
- Monthly meetings with parents of children attending the center, to discuss the progress of their children in school and some other educational topics ;
- Development of foreign language courses (for classes V, VI, VII, VIII), as well as theater, sports activities, summer camps to help these children express their skills and to incorporate and integrate them in the life of our society;
- Learning the computer and its practice by students of this center who learn computer in school curricula in public schools;
- Payment of each month expenses for the above children attending kindergarten and crèche.
Financial cost of the project are supported in part by the IAS(International Association for Solidarity), for remote support of children attending the center, but above all by the solidarity of students, school classes, parishes (churches), citizens,the Italian sports groups, twinning with the Italian communes-who offer support in distance education for these children. Parts of the staff are teachers, educators, cultural mediators who are working part-time at the center. The staff reaches a total of 10 people. Regional Education Directory pays a teacher whois part of the center staff.
The importance of this center and this service for the city and Lezha Municipality lies in a number of reasons:
- There are more and more children from Roma and Egyptian communities who pursue the elementary education;
- There are increasingly fewer children from Roma and Egyptian communities who are abandoning the educational process;
- The integration of these children in public schools and city community life is satisfactory, and there is a gradual elimination of differences;
- There are fewer children who beg, it connected with the pact that the parents of these children sign for their children’s admission to the center;
- There is change in the mentality of parents of beneficiary children from this project on the importance of schooling for their children and more attention on their integration through education.
- Many children, who are attending activities at this center, have already begun to think and reflect differently on their future.
Thanks to the recognition and appreciation of the work of this center we consider it as an example of service throughout the Republic of Albania for the success it has,the big target it has:the removal of children from begging on the streets (mostly Roma and Egyptian community) through education and training.
Lezha is proud of such a center, proud of the integration of children of Roma and Egyptian communities in preschool and school system. Only through education can be thought that this community for many years located in Lezha can open a window to think differently, to dream differently and to build life differently.