Emira's story of Resilience and Transformation

UNDP Albania

November 23, 2023

I spotted Emira, a 9-year-old, at the Resilience Community Center in Durrës. She sat quietly, engrossed in a book, her fingers skillfully sketching a flying bird. Her art, filled with vibrant colors, left me amazed.

Emira's story of Resilience and Transformation

Emira's painting. Photo: UNDP Albania

Though Emira seldom used words to express herself, her eyes conveyed a depth of emotion that spoke volumes.

I soon learned that Emira's childhood had been marred by profound sorrow, as she endured domestic violence inflicted by her father.  Despite her mother's initial report of the violence, she later withdrew it. Tragically, the violence escalated, resulting in the fatal murder of Emira's mother, witnessed by her and her brothers.

Imagine three orphaned children, left to grieve for their mother, with no support. In their darkest hour, Emira's aunt came to help, embracing the role of caregiver and becoming their legal guardian.

Emira and her brothers were in desperate need of assistance. And when you seek help with determination, it often finds its way to you.

Durrës Resilience Center, operating in partnership with the Municipality and the civil society organization "Today for the Future," extended a helping hand. Following a referral from the school's psychosocial service, the Center provided crucial academic support to Emira, who grappled with academic challenges compounded by the emotional scars of her past.

She participated in the “After School” programme, a haven for children from marginalized communities, including Roma, Egyptians, and those with disabilities. It's a place where essential learning skills are developed, empowering children to embrace their full potential.

Emira's story of Resilience and Transformation

The “After School” programme for children from marginalized communities, including Roma, Egyptians, and those with disabilities. Photo: UNDP Albania

Emira's aunt and her spouse also found invaluable support through the Resilience Center. Navigating the bureaucracy for scholarship payments and orphanage assistance became a more manageable task, thanks to the guidance they received. Both actively participated in the center's employment mentoring programme, reflecting a holistic approach to the family's well-being and prospects.

Emira's story of Resilience and Transformation

"Every child can bloom with the right support. We believe in the power of art as therapy, and the progress we've witnessed with Emira is nothing short of excellent. From a withdrawn child, Emira has blossomed into an active participant, engaging with peers and progressing academically." - Fabiola Laco, Head of the civil society organization.

The Resilience Center in Durrës delivers crucial integrated social services to those in greatest need. In close partnership with frontline professionals, the center offers tailored assistance to women and girls, victims of violence, people with disabilities, the elderly, disadvantaged children, youth, and those from socio-economically challenged families, including female heads of households.

Emira's story of Resilience and Transformation

Starting in August 2023, the Durres Resilience Center has supported 124 people, including 89 children and 35 adults. Out of the children receiving help, 29 have joined the "After School" programme, all coming from families facing economic challenges. 

These families include children from Roma and Egyptian communities, children with disabilities, orphans, and those struggling with learning difficulties. Additionally, the Center's mobile services have identified and assisted 73 people, providing services like speech therapy, psychological support, and economic empowerment. 

Through the Employment Mentoring Programme, women, including heads of households and survivors of gender-based violence, find mentorship, training, and opportunities, rekindling their hopes for a better future. The Resilience Center in Durrës is established in the context of the USAID-funded project: “Improving Community Resilience implemented by UNDP.

The primary goal is to empower vulnerable communities, enhance their resilience, and tackle the underlying factors of exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, and gender-based violence. Three Resilience Centers in the designated municipalities of Durres, Kurbin, and Lezhe stand at the heart of the programme.

These centers function as multisectoral hubs equipped with early warning systems, referral mechanisms, networks, and partnerships with relevant institutions and service providers, both at the municipal and regional levels.

Emira's story of Resilience and Transformation

Looking to the Future

As we look to the future, I imagine the magnificent life's canvas that Emira, the young artist, will paint with her life. 
In a million colors, both joyful and melancholic, she will create a masterpiece that serves as an inspiration to everyone. 

When communities receive the right support and come together with love and resilience, the future holds endless possibilities.