Guided by Love: A Journey Through Legal Struggles

UNDP Albania

March 25, 2024
Guided by Love: A Journey Through Legal Struggles

At just 12 years old, Kanita carries a profound burden—a mother's absence, a void echoing deeply within her tender heart. Kanita is abandoned by her mother. Five years have slipped by since she last saw her. 
Luckily, her grandmother, Natasha, was there for her.

With weathered hands and a gentle smile, Natasha became Kanita's guiding light, offering love and stability amidst the storm of uncertainty that surrounded them.

Behind closed doors, a silent battle rages—a fight for legal recognition, for the right to provide Kanita with the stability she so desperately craves. The absence of legal guardianship casts a formidable shadow over their lives, hindering Natasha's efforts to access essential services for Kanita.

Yet, a light at the end of the tunnel emerged as Natasha discovered the Free Legal Aid Center in Korça, where she found the support, she desperately sought.

With the center's professional guidance, Natasha embarked on the arduous journey toward legal guardianship for Kanita. Despite encountering a myriad of obstacles along the way, Natasha persisted, fueled by an unparalleled devotion to her granddaughter.

The Free Legal Aid Center proved to be an invaluable ally, navigating Natasha through the labyrinth of complex administrative and legal processes and paperwork with compassion and expertise.

Through guardianship, Kanita will gain access to the vital resources and support she needs, ensuring her well-being, stability, and a foundation for a brighter future.

“The Free Legal Aid Center was a godsend during one of the most challenging moments of our lives," Natasha reflects, her voice filled with gratitude. Their professional service, empathy, and commitment to helping us navigate through this difficult time have been truly invaluable as Kanita grows and her needs evolve. I have become like a 'radio,' spreading the word about the center. There are many like me who desperately need free legal aid, says Natasha.

"It is crucial to emphasize the paramount importance of awareness. Being aware and informed of the existence of the Free Legal Aid Center can be transformative, unlocking a lifeline for those navigating complex legal challenges, ensuring justice is not just a privilege, but a right accessible to all" - says Vilma Cobani—the Project Manager.

Natasha's journey not only illuminates their personal struggles but also shines a light on a broader societal issue—the surging demand for free legal aid in Albania. In a country aspiring to accession to the European Union, access to justice remains a cornerstone of fundamental human rights, yet it remains out of reach for many.

The partnership between UNDP, the Ministry of Justice, and the Austrian Development Cooperation offers a glimmer of hope for vulnerable populations like Natasha and Kanita.

The “Expanding Free Legal Aid Services to Women and Men in Albania" project, funded by the Government of Austria, addresses the pressing need for free legal aid services across the country.

Through the support of 12 established Legal Aid Centers, vulnerable communities receive vital primary legal aid services, spanning from victims of gender-based violence to marginalized groups like the Roma and Egyptian communities.

In 2023 alone, over 3,148 vulnerable people, sought refuge in the Free Legal Aid Centers, with 1,612 of them being women and girls.

Fair, transparent, and professional legal aid services serve as the cornerstone in fostering trust within the justice system.

As Kanita celebrates her twelfth birthday, Natasha pledges unwavering commitment to her granddaughter, vowing to stand by her side until her last breath, ensuring she feels cherished and supported.