SOS Children’s Villages Albania
After seeing the terrible conditions in the children's homes in Tirana, Albania’s capital city, SOS Children decided to act swiftly. A government agreement was signed, and the first 90 children were able to move into a brand SOS Children's Village Tirana in July 1995. This SOS Children's Village also has an attached SOS Nursery School and an SOS Primary and Secondary School with a canteen where vocational training is offered in catering.
SOS Children's Village Tirana spontaneously started a community outreach programme in the spring of 1999. They offered refugees from neighbouring Kosovo accommodation. An SOS Emergency Relief Programme was started. By converting two buildings, which the Children’s Village had rented, they were able to give shelter to 700 refugees. The "Play Mobile Project" was started in September 1999 as a means of easing traumatised children back into daily life. After most of the refugees, who were still receiving financial support, had returned home, the buildings were handed back to the city of Tirana and used as local nursery schools.
The first ever children's library, "Home of Books" was set up six months later to benefit children and adults in Tirana. Apart from local literature, it also has a range of books in other languages and offers leisure time activities such as pottery, painting, computing and the learning of foreign languages. The project is an attempt to keep the children off the streets and help give them skills so they will have a more secure future.
When our children get older, they want independence, just like other teenagers. SOS Children builds houses for these teenagers where they can live together, and a youth advisor is on hand if they ever want someone to talk to. We have two SOS youth homes in Tirana, one for girls and one for boys.
A small botanical garden has been set up at the Children’s Village, and every child has a few flowers that they must look after. They decorate their family homes with these flowers, and one day they would like to open a flower shop. The Village Sports Day was a recent highlight for the children, and they all played basketball, volleyball and football, as well as doing lots of running. Prizes were awarded to the winners. Volleyball is a particular popular sport among the children, and there are two Village teams who play twice a week. They also play against local teams, which mean the children can make more friends in their neighbourhood.
The SOS nursery school teaches 100 children, most of whom are from the local community, some of whom have special needs. These children are well-catered for. Teaching special needs children means we can see what support local families need. All the youngsters are doing well at school, and pass rates have gone up again this academic year.