ALBANIA: Salesians Celebrate 20 Years Providing Education to Youth
(MissionNewswire) Jan. 31, 2013, marked the 20th Anniversary of the Salesian-run Don Bosco Social Center in Tirana. The Center provides education and technical training to poor youth in Albania.
The anniversary event was preceded by a series of activities involving the city’s schools in which national and international civic leaders participated. Youth from the elementary and high schools and the technical institute participated in the day’s celebration.
Speeches by the Albanian Prime Minister, Honorable Sali Berisha and the Education Minister, Myqerem Tafaj as well as the Ambassador of Italy, Honorable Massimo Gaiani, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Honorable Marek Jeziorski and the Mayor of Tirana, Lulzim Basha, were held in honor of the anniversary celebration.
Also in attendance were representatives from UNICEF, the Vodafone Albania Foundation and Raiffeisen Bank. The Apostolic Nuncio from England, Mgr. Ramiro Moliner and the Salesian Provincial of Southern Italy, Father Pasquale Christiani were also present.
In his speech, the Albanian Prime Minister, Honorable Sali Berisha, recalled that twenty years earlier what is now a school campus serving youth through adults, was a field full of military bunkers. He thanked the Salesians for their tireless work through the years and for their dedication to creating a thriving educational facility.
According to the World Bank, Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Almost one quarter of the population lives below the poverty level of two dollars a day. The poorest of the poor, who comprise about five percent of the population, struggle to put adequate food on the table each day. An estimated 57 percent of Albania’s people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Poverty is 66 percent higher in rural areas than in Tirana, the capital, and 50 percent higher in rural areas than in other urban centers.
In collaboration with the International Volunteers for Development, the Italian Cooperation, the Albanian State and other national and international organizations, the Don Bosco Social Center of Tirana provides a primary and secondary school, a technical school, a vocational training center and a youth center. A day care center and a center that helps young people with disabilities round out the Center’s programs.
“Don Bosco Social Center has expanded its activities year to year while maintaining its purpose to train and educate youth and the most vulnerable while giving them the skills to become honest citizens who work hard and give back to their communities,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The education provided here allows youth to gain a variety of skills enabling them to find work and break the cycle of poverty they were born into.”
World Bank – Albania