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Able Voices - Albania (2012)

Location: Europe, Albania

Keywords: Advocacy, Children, Disability, Visual Impairment, Young People

Project Background

Partner Organisation: World Vision, Albania
Project Manager: Clare Struthers
Facilitators: Clare Struthers & Glynis Shaw

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that young people with disabilities are among the poorest and most marginalised of the world’s youth. Estimates suggest that there are between 180 and 220 million youth with disabilities worldwide, and nearly 80 percent of them live in developing countries.

All of the issues that affect young people, such as access to education, employment, health care and social services, also affect youth with disabilities, but in a far more complex way. Attitudes and discrimination linked to disability make it much more difficult for them to go to school, to find work or to participate in local activities. In many communities, both rural and urban, they are also excluded from decision making processes, due to low expectations about what they are capable of, and a lack of projects aimed at enabling inclusion.

In July 2012, PhotoVoice, in partnership with World Vision Albania, ran a two-week photography course with two groups of disabled young people in an under-developed area of Albania, enabling and supporting them to use photography as a way of exploring their experiences and aspirations, and speak out about barriers they face to inclusion in their communities. Raising their profile amongst the wider Albanian public, and challenging expectations about what they are capable of achieving and how much they are capable of voicing their perspectives and needs is the first step to lasting improvements in attitudes and inclusion.

PhotoVoice’s Clare Struthers and experienced PhotoVoice facilitator Glynis Shaw travelled out last June to Albania to meet the participants. They liaised with World Vision Albania and prepared their staff and a team of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers from the local university to support the workshop process with fourteen young people with varying requirements for inclusion. Nine workshops were ran for each group of seven young people, in two different villages in Elbasan.

The participants have gained photo skills in a participatory PhotoVoice project and the exhibition of their work demonstrates their technical and creative abilities. The work has been shown in prominent public space exhibitions in their local communities of Shushice and Shirgjan and in Elbasan - the largest town in the area.  All 3 exhibitions were held outside for maximum impact and participation from the local communities, including the village elders, mayors and local television station! The work will also travel to Albania’s capital Tirana, prompting wider recognition of the young people’s abilities and messages, and promoting the inclusion of disabled young people in mainstream activities, and in decision-making about issues that affect them.

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Project photo gallery

To switch between the image edits for the two groups, click on the menu button at the bottom left of the slideshow window.

Project Outputs

Using this project as a case study, PhotoVoice are currently compiling a toolkit for working with people with disabilities to add to our current methodology series.

Further project info

Extract From World Vision Project Report

This was the first Photo Advocacy Project to be implemented in WV Albania targeting children with Different Abilities and it opens a new dimension of working with children, paying special attention to their needs and offering to them the opportunity to express and develop their talents that they have.

One of the key programmatic components in the ADP as well as in alignment with WV National Strategy is to promote access to quality basic services (education, health & social) that contribute to the overall child development and well-being, especially for the most vulnerable (incl. children with Different Abilities). Photo advocacy is one of the best practices in engaging children with DA in advocacy and enabling them to sensitize all levels of the community to participate in improved child friendly& inclusive approaches for DA children in their context.

WV Elbasan will continue to enable and support children to use photography as a way of exploring their experiences and aspirations, and speak out about barriers they face to inclusion in their communities.

Quote from Clare Struthers, PhotoVoice Projects Support and co-facilitator on Able Voices project
“There was almost 100% attendance and no drop outs, showing the enthusiasm and energy of these talented young people. The course included a local outshoot and a 2 day trip to the beach via some archaeological ruins and a zoo, which was the most horrifying zoo I’ve ever been to in my life!”

This project would not have been possible without the support of Arjan Emini of World Vision.

Volunteers: Orkid Mema, Florian Maloku, Gjergji Lushka, Emanuela Doko, Haydina Dyli, Denisa Sinani, Merita Biloshmi, and Sam Wakely