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28 November Nov 2019 1011 28 November 2019

Albania. SHIS and AVSI on the front line alongside the victims of the earthquake

Our first goal: distribution of hot meals, blankets, healthcare packs and helping children recover from the trauma and overcome this difficult moment.

Interview by Daniele Rocchi (AgenSIR) to Roberta Profka, Director of the Albanian ngo SHIS, AVSI's partner in Albania

The death toll and the number of wounded by the earthquake of 26 November is tragically increasing: 41 died and approximately 900 were injured. On-site relief services are being supplied, inter alia, by SHIS a local ONG partner of Italian NGO AVSI.

SHIS and AVSI focus their efforts on helping traumatized children in makeshift camps

© AgenSIR

Our first goal is to help children left homeless, temporarily housed in makeshift tent camps set up in the most affected towns and villages, to recover from the trauma and overcome this difficult moment.

Roberta Profka is the Director of Albanian ngo SHIS – International Association for Solidarity – local partner of AVSI. Contacted by phone, while working with her team in Durres, Tirana and Thumana to organise support for children and their families alongside local institutions, she spoke of these dramatic hours after the earthquake of November 26. The expertise acquired in this field is the result of twenty-year cooperation with AVSI, resulting in the Albanian and Italian NGOs promoting numerous educational and after-school projects and activities, such as those in the “Piccolo Principe” day centre on the outskirts of Tirana. Furthermore, through a distance assistance programme, AVSI supports some 700 children and their families in the country’s nine poorest regions.

“The situation is growing increasingly difficult, the tremors continue and heavy rainfalls only made things worse. The death toll rose to 42 with 900 wounded – said the Director -. Local residents are being assisted with food and clothing, thanks to help from many countries. We are actively supporting the children with the necessary psychological counselling. We don’t have the exact figures because some families have left the first shelter camp to move in with their relatives. Our intervention includes animation, games, study and distribution of hot meals, blankets, healthcare packs. Most of all, we are planning a long-term commitment, because while the problematic aspects are evident now, the traumatic repercussions on these children will only emerge at a later stage. We need to be prepared. Many buildings collapsed as a result of the earthquake, in Durres, Tirana, Thumana and in many other small villages. Schools have been damaged with a high risk of children losing their schooling. This is something we must also think about. In cooperation with institutions, we set up a team of engineers and technicians to assess the condition of each school. Albania will get back on its feet with the strength of its families and children. We will do whatever it takes to be by their side,” concluded Profka, “and we are therefore asking for everyone’s help.”