As part of my Atlas Corps Fellowship funding as an Albanian grantee, I was entitled of implementing a community project right after ending my Fellowship service in Washington DC, Class 26 Fellow. Three months after my Fellowship, I submitted the final report for my community project I implemented in my country, Albania.

My project was about Raising Awareness among children and youngsters on Volunteering and Solidarity. In Albania there have been very few initiatives that target children and youth on these issues, but mostly those were superficial and not related with awareness. In Albania, children and youth have almost no information about these topics, because formal education barely mentions these concepts within the curricula. According to the World Giving Index, volunteering in Albania is always ranked in the end of the list among other countries in the world, which means that people have lack of information and awareness, especially youth.

 In present times solidarity and volunteering is being seriously questioned within European societies and Balkan countries. Taking into consideration the migrant crisis, poverty among people, the shrinking space of donors and financial means has put us on the test of humanity.

Thus, it is necessary to educate young generations with volunteering in their local communities, NGOs, schools, expressing solidarity to others, actions that our communities appears to be lacking.

In Albania there is a scarce understanding among youth and general public about the civil society role and community actions. Moreover, there is no community foundation established and very few CSOs strive to enable the environment for philanthropic activity and solidarity. Volunteering actions are very sporadic undertaken often by municipalities and few CSOs regarding environment cleaning, but even in these cases youth are mostly obligated to participate in these initiatives. Very few youth and students spend their free time to volunteer for a cause or in a civil society organization. More and more, we see that people, in particular youth do not care and do not take any action when they see somebody at risk.

Thus, it is very important to raise the awareness starting from children in kindergarten and teenagers in elementary and secondary education, aiming to teach them some basic concepts ranging from civil society’s role in their life, community action, volunteering to solidarity with others. Everyone benefits from children serving as volunteers. There are several advantageous factors that children can receive and contribute to recipient organizations and to society by serving as volunteers. Volunteer projects have the potential of dramatically making a difference in the lives of their young participants. The importance of children as volunteers include the following; promotes healthy lifestyle and choices, enhances development, teaches life skills, improves the community, and encourages a lifelong service ethic.

This project was very personally related, because I have been volunteering for more than a decade and I have not only developed a lot of skills but I have gained self confidence, being aware, being more independent, and having a lot of motivation to do things, being more organized, creating a network with amazing people etc. So starting from this, I wanted to implement this project to young people so they can be able to gain a lot of skills before they start enter to the job market. 

PS:  Justification part: