OXAB has sent volunteers to Albania for the last six years where we work with a Swedish NGO called TAMAM (which means very good/ fulfilled in Albanian) who run a two week summer camp in the village of Marqinet near the Capital (Tirana).
On March 15th 2008 a chain of explosions at an Albanian military depot situated merely twelve kilometres from Tirana, Albania's capital, carved out three deep craters in the earth only meters away from the villages of Gerdec, Marqinet and the small town of Vora. The initial blast combined with the subsequent falling debris and artillery ordinance wreaked havoc on the lives of more than 6,000 people, leaving in its wake 26 dead, more than 300 injured and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. Support from well-known aid agencies such as Save the Children came pouring in during the immediate aftermath, however their presence turned out to be transient, while TAMAM stayed on.
What TAMAM realised was that long term support was needed for the children of Marqinet, and thus a long-term project was initiated in collaboration with students from the University of Tirana with an aim to integrate marginalised youth into Albania's broader socio-economic and political spheres of life. TAMAM's initiative is driven by the belief that the comparatively privileged youth of Tirana have much to offer marginalised communities in Albania and that the values of volunteerism are a key necessity for the nations socio-economic development.
The Banana Dance performed at the summer school in 2011!
Albania Representative: Natalie Clarke (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The highlight of the year for the children is always the two week summer camp which is attended by over 60 children each year (all between 4-17 years old). Each day there are 6-8 hours of activities (anything from sports, arts and crafts and games to intensive English courses) as well as excursions such as trips to the nearby beach in Durres or local swimming pool. Volunteers are encouraged to socialise with each other to facilitate cultural exchange, with themed events and trips organised every evening. On last years trip there were volunteers from Denmark, Sweden, the USA and Korea (in addition to the OXAB volunteers) which reflects on TAMAM's motto 'friendship without borders'.
Food and accommodation are provided for the duration of the camp as part of a £150 camp fee (made payable to TAMAM by wire transfer) and volunteers will then live and cook together in rented housing in the village. Unlike our other volunteering trips, our Albania project has fixed dates (usually from early to mid-July) and we are limited by numbers so can't guarantee all applicants will receive a place on this trip if demand is high (usually we are unable to accept more than six volunteers).
pictured above (left and right): OXAB volunteers with some of the younger children at the camp during art and sport lessons.
Our Albania project is run in partnership with TAMAM Albania, a branch of a Swedish NGO working on long term projects in Marqinet.