4th Training Visit of the Project, 2-3 December 2019, Vlore

On December 2-3, in the framework of IDEA Investment and Empowerment Actions project, was organized the fourth and final Study Visit foreseen under the project. The study visit took place in Vlora and its purpose was to identify the best practices related to social business, to get to know the different models of financing, as best practices in Vlora city. One of the main goals of the project is to develop financial mechanisms that will facilitate the creation of social businesses. After a precise identification of needs and opportunities, by observing practices existing in the respective territories, the partners will work to improve the Social Entrepreneurship environment in the Albania – Greece cross – border territory. Based on a pre-set agenda, the first day included visits to the Vlora District Council, a meeting with representatives from the Vlora Municipality, the Mental Health Community Center and was concluded with a meeting at Auleda premises with the Diving Center Radhime. The second day included visits to the Visitor Center Radhime, the Fisherman’s Cooperative Radhime and finally a visit to the Aulona Center.

Vlora District Council

The first meeting took place at the Vlora Regional Council. The IDEA team was also hosted by the Chairman of the Council, Mr. Ervis Mocka, who welcomed the project initiative and hoping that this project would have a proper impact on the city of Vlora, briefly explained about the activities of the County Council.

The council representative Anila Hitaj presented more broadly the policies undertaken by the District Council in cooperation with the Vatra Psychosocial Center for the provision of social services related to the prevention of human trafficking and domestic violence or gender-based violence. Mr Mocka said that maintaining the shelter and providing other services has a significant financial cost to the County Council, because they are a set of services that need to be provided. Trafficked women continue to need protection and education. Due to these costs, this initiative is also being developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and various donors.

Afterwards, Mrs Anila Hitaj presented in more detail the direct assistance provided to victims of trafficking or potential victims of trafficking and victims of domestic violence. These services include shelter in specially built or rented apartments, health care, psychosocial assistance, psychological assistance, mediation and strengthening of family relationships, legal assistance and counselling, educational assistance support, child support for trafficking victims and a cycle of counselling.

The centre also offers socio-cultural activities, in which 29 educational topics and 35 group discussions conducted by the multidisciplinary group in the field of social, psychological, legal and health. Another phase is the provision of free legal services, with a total of 52 cases benefiting this service, or other psychological services. Another important aspect is the enhancement of the capacities of the state administration and other stakeholders such as NGOs to assist them in tackling issues.

Community Services Center (Municipality of Vlore)

The second meeting took place in the premises of the Community Services Center, which is currently managed by the Municipality of Vlora.

Director of the Center Lorena Balla stated that the center was initially set up by an NGO that managed in an initial 3-year period together with the Municipality of Vlora 70% to 30% and after that period it was completely managed by the Municipality of Vlora. The center that supports children with physical and mental problems currently has 77 children, some of whom have been withdrawn as success cases (8 in total). The center has also facilitated job placement, or enrollment in vocational training courses. However, they say that in the case of training the family members were the first to be skeptical, most affected by their concerns about health and safety at work. The Center currently holds the status of a public institution and collaborates extensively with various organizations. Services offered are:

  • Therapeutic services. They are done to examine the various problems and then act on it.
  • Daily sessions for parents by training them and simplifying their childcare work.
  • Awareness raising activities conducted in schools to raise awareness of children, teachers and parents. This through the creation of a triangular center-parent-child relationship.
  • Other fun activities.

Afterwards Mrs. Rezarta Andoni, from the Directorate of Social Services of Vlora Municipality, made a presentation of the Emergency Center and other services provided by this directorate. The Directorate includes child protection services, protection against domestic violence, economic assistance to needy families and economic assistance to people with disabilities. The Directorate has had ongoing collaborations with other organizations, one of which is Auleda, where they have previously collaborated to operate the emergency center. Emergency cases are later subdivided according to the problems at specialist centers.

Community Mental Health Center

The third visit for the first day took place at the Community Mental Health Center. Mrs. Najada Mali and Mrs. Rozeta Ciruna presented the work of the centre for the participants in this meeting. Mrs. Ciruna explains that the Community Center treats patients with nervous system disorder. Currently, there are 3 family houses built with a capacity of 34 beds, which aim to treat patients in normal living conditions.

They work to teach patients to develop activities of daily living like any other, to integrate them into society, by activating dormant mental areas. They have even collaborated several times with the labour office to offer some patients the opportunity to develop vocational courses and to help them integrate into the labour market.

The Community Center has been participating in various fairs, with patients presenting their work. The Center has been in constant collaboration with organizations and participated in various projects, one of which was the project developed in collaboration with Auleden. The consistent project of building a series of flowers, which would be integrated by working the centre’s patients, at the same time the profits from the flowers would be used to cover the cost of the activity. Currently, the flower greenhouse is no longer operational due to the distance it is placed making it difficult to transport patients from the centre to the greenhouse.

Diving Center Blue Expedition

The last meeting for the first day of the Study Visit was held with Mr. Pajtim Shpata, representative of the “Blue Expedition” diving centre. The meeting took place at Auleda’s premises. Mr. Shpata said that the diving sector in the city of Vlora is still underdeveloped while emphasizing the lack of a legal framework at present as well as various difficulties encountered in daily work starting from the lack of a convenient diving centre.

He says that he is certified in providing various underwater services and has tried to engage in volunteer activities as well as underwater rescue action. The main activities are the provision of tourist dives and service for underwater works. The centre has been part of a number of underwater environmental protection activities consisting of clearing the sea from pollution, one of the major threats to the underwater world in the Vlora Bay.

They have collaborated with a considerable number of organizations extending the boundaries of cooperation outside the national borders, for example, he presents a collaboration they have had with the University of Lecce for monitoring seawater and proposing concrete policies based on measurements. They currently operate as an NGO but they say that their sector does not yet have a clear legal status.

Radhima Visitor Center and Radhima Fishing Cooperative

The second day of the Study Visit started at the Radhima Visitor Center premises to learn more about Visitor Center. The work of the Visitor Center and the projects they are implementing in the conservation of protected areas were briefly presented.

The Protected Areas Administration currently has a wide territory to cover. In terms of administration it is a state-owned entity and in terms of funding, the Director of Administration, Mr Hysolakoj, says they are mainly based on projects participating as associate partners. The main function of the center is the reception and orientation of foreign tourists, as well as local tourists, to orient and familiarize them with the activities and points of interest in the surrounding area.

Shortly thereafter, there was a presentation by the Fishermen’s Cooperative Radhime which has its center adjacent to the Visitor Center Radhime. As they are close by and the Cooperative has no premises, Mr Durmishi was in the Visitor Center premises.

Mr.Durmishi said that currently they constitute 30% of the fishing vessels in the Vlora area fishing in accordance with environmental standards. In response to a question from Mr Economopoulos, who asked what are the benefits and reasons why they chose to set up a cooperative, Mr Durmishi says the first is the significant reduction in financial costs and higher profitability that drives them to manage this cooperative. In addition, the cooperative is equipped with tools that have a more environmentally friendly tendency, but also the methods used by them conform to the rules of safe fishing.

Aulona Center

The last visit for this “Study Visit” took place in the premises of the Alona Center. Aulona Center Director, Mrs. Enela Mone, hosted the IDEA team and presented the work and services the center provides.

Aulona is currently registered as an NGO, which is financially based mainly on grants from various donors. It is currently part of the Civil Society Resource Center, with the aim of increasing capacity and strengthening local non-governmental organizations. The projects are mainly focused on women’s health and human rights. Aulona offers a range of services for women, which include consultations, special equipment visits are offered for a fee. This fee, given the market offer, is lower than private clinics. For this activity to be offered, the center has registered a nipt, according to which payments are made in accordance with the law. However Mrs. Mone says there is currently a fear of expanding the services offered because the taxation system may regard it as a big business, which could result in a heavier fiscal burden and, as a result, cause a shrinking effect instead of expansion. 

With the presentation and discussions by the participants, the Fourth Study Visit closed on December 3, 2019.

With the presentation and discussions by the participants, the Fourth Study Visit closed on 3 December 2019.

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