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Albania | Peer education and child empowerment to prevent trafficking

2015-06-01

June 1, 2015, Elbasan, Albania: On the occasion of the International Children´s Day, USAID and Terre des hommes promoted child empowerment to prevent trafficking in the framework of the project “United against Child Trafficking”.

With the objective of empowering children to play an active role in their own protection against trafficking abuse, neglect or exploitation and to be aware on how to stay safe, the “United against Child Trafficking” project is facilitating peer education activities through which children themselves are leading mobilization within schools to conduct their own initiatives against child trafficking.

Children at 10 schools in Tirana, Durres, Elbasan, Fier and Korca were selected as peer educators to lead the organisation of awareness raising activities against child trafficking. Peer educators have been trained to conduct psycho-social activities through games and sports, as well as on leadership and youth mobilization, which has enhanced their life skills and resilience and equipped them to organize awareness-raising  activities for their peers.  The aim is that these children consolidate as agents of change within their communities, positively influencing their environments, mobilizing their peers and ensuring sustainability of the project outcomes.

Schools targeted by this project and currently holding peer education activities are:

Tirana : "Pal Engjelli" and "Bajram Curri"

Durres: "Isuf Ferra" and "Hasan Koci"

Elbasan: "Qemal Haxhihasani" and "Hamit Mullisi"

Fier: "100 Vjetori i Pavaresise" and "Dino Ismaili"

Korca: "Ismail Qemali" and "Pandeli Cale"

During an activity held on June 1st, the International Children´s Day, 135 peer educators from 10 schools in 5 municipalities got together in Elbasan to exchange their experiences and learn from each other´s successes and challenges in implementing initiatives against child trafficking in their different schools.

Through a game called the "Planetary Trip" children from each school were grouped in 10 planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Planet X) and each child was given a bracelet of the colour of their planet. Tickets to travel to different planets were also provided to each child.  In each stop of their trip, each child sat with children from different schools and the 4 questions below were discussed with the direct facilitation of school teachers and support from Tdh staff. Some of the  answers given by children from the different schools are also listed below:

1)What has been the best experience you have had being member of the peer educators group and what initiative that you undertook you preferred the most?

- "We like psychosocial games because other children in our school accepted better the information when it was given through the game"

- "The training we received"

- “We like the goal of our group which is Stop Trafficking”

- “We liked the exercises to manage better our feelings and the same exercises helped our peers when we repeated this activity with them”

-“Sharing experiences with children from other grades”

-“An activity to raise awareness on inclusiveness with parents, children, teachers and community members from different ethnicities named Rainbow of diversity, all the colours match well together, we are a child friendly school "

- “We had an activity with drawings, essays and discussion on trafficking issues and how to protect ourselves”

 

2) What do you think has been the impact this experience has had on other children?

- "Creation of confidence on the group of Peer Educators"

- "Learnt skills as communication, resilience, to make friends and socialize, through the psychosocial games"

- "They are more motivated"

- "They know that even if we are small we can do a lot of things"

- “A group of children stigmatised a girl in my school. I started staying with her and we gradually became friends. This helped the other children to understand that this girl was a good friend and since then no one called her names anymore"

- “I liked it very much that when we involved parents in the psycho-social games  because they became like us acting like children and we also feel more comfortable to express our feelings at home now”

 

3) What have been challenges you have faced to implement initiatives or being part of this group?

- “ Parents at the beginning were sceptical but when they participated in our activities, they changed their mind.”

-“ Other children getting used to our role”

- "Time schedules are not flexible", "Respecting the time of lessons"

- "How to explain certain topics to small children"

 

4) How do you feel about being part of this group?

- “I felt appreciated”

- "Happy"

- "Excited and motivated"

- “Useful because I can help other children who are neglected inside the school”

-"More capable"

- "Safer"


At the end of the "Planetary Trip" the peer educator group of each school discussed on their role in the future. Through a simple evaluation of the activity children expressed that they had enjoyed meeting other peer educators from different cities and schools and the possibility to express freely in a safe and friendly environment.

 

After the hard work, children enjoyed the party and had fun dancing and playing before going back to their respective cities.