On June 12, 2019 was held in the premises of University “Zoja e Këshillit të Mirë”, Tiranë, the Forum on social inclusion “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, look what I can do”. This Forum was organised in the framework of SOCIETIES project and all the initiatives of Caritas Albania on social inclusion of PWD.

Caritas from many years is working in the field of disability and is supporting this target group with the aim of independent life. Several activities, initiatives and strategies through lobbies and advocacies at all levels of decision-making for this category thanks to the support of strategic partners inside and outside the country.

The forum addressed strategies, policies and recommendations for all stakeholders in the field of disability. Many issues were addressed both by the panel and the forum participants themselves.

In his greeting speech, H.E. Mons. Angelo Massafra, president of Caritas Albania expressed all the gratitude for the work of Caritas and other organizations working for people with disabilities but also for other disadvantaged groups of our society. He reminded us that our service and work is God and faith in Him. But also, he underlined the not enough attention from the public institutions in this direction. He invited all the actors, public institutions and civil societies to work together for the marginalized group.

Head of ADC office in Albania Mrs. Siomone Ungersböck , in her speech underlined the rights of the disabled which are very important and surely the most important is the fact that Albania has recognized the rights through the Convention. The situation is still difficult, there are still new challenges: facing every day the lack of infrastructure, access to health and education system are a challenge for people with disabilities. We are all working together to improve these conditions. The government should have social policies and financial resources to ensure access to life and social inclusion for people with disabilities. Peer consultants are a very important work done by Caritas Albanian and should still work to provide more such services to be closer to the PWD and their needs.

Mr. Shkelzen Marku presented the recommendations obtained by the Policy Paper “Fostering inclusion and protection of rights of people with disabilities in Albania”.

Caritas Albania actively and systematically follows the political agenda on disability issues through participation in dialogue with institutions at all levels, local, central, international level.

For more than four years, Caritas Albania has established peer counseling service. This service aims at the preparation of a group of 14 disability counselors who, combining their individual experience with disabilities with the right professional background, can provide counseling to other persons with disabilities and at the same time transform in activists of the rights movement for people with disabilities.

The philosophy of Caritas Albanian program for PWDs:

  • Caritas Albanian for PWDs
  • Caritas Albanian with PWDs
  • PWDs for their own.

Caritas Albania’s next challenge in advocacy work remains to raise awareness among all actors, with special emphasis on state authorities at all levels, for their essential role in creating a more favorable social climate for vulnerable groups. Courage is needed to accept problems and seek solutions.

Non-implementation of the actual laws and non-fulfillment of obligations and commitments undertaken by the state through policy documents as an expression of a mentality inherited from totalitarianism and present in all the countries of the East, remains one of the greatest challenges of our society.

Mr. Adrian Imami – administrator of Agro Besa Invest opened his speech bringing to the attention the employment of two beneficiaries of the Caritas Center for PWD.

“It was a challenge for me as an administrator of this business to hire amongst the staff, two PWD’ -underlined Mr. Imami.  But I really trust on them that they will be adopted as the other part of the colleagues, and now in front of you I can say with a loud voice that they did it. They are two employees as the rest of the staff with the same rights as everyone. What I’m sorry, is the fact that directly they were employed, the state immediately terminates the disability allowance that they have received for so many years. My intention was just to help this target group and to give firstly my example, and not to benefit from state subsidies that the law provides through a long and complicate list of procedures. I would really appreciate that Caritas Albania can organize such an activity but inviting businesses to give the good example as I did and reminding to them the social responsibility of businesses to hire PWD among their staff’s”, said Mr. Imami

What Mr. Imami proposed, was the drafting of a resolution on the findings of the forum and sent it to the government (the missing ministry in the forum) and the media at the same time.

The main issue underlined from all the participants who took the floor was the absence of representatives of respective ministries who should deal with the situation of PWD.