The “Different, but Equal” conference took place today in Tirana, Albania, organised by World Vision in collaboration with Nehemiah Gateway Foundation.
The conference had distinguished participants such as Mr. Erion Veliaj, the mayor of Tirana, Ms. Bardhylka Kospiri, the deputy minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Ms. Herolinda Shkullaku, the executive director of Nehemiah Gateway Foundation, Prof. Dr. Werner Esser, professor of Nehemiah Gateway University and Steffen Helbing, committee member of Association for Medium-Sized Enterprises and Economy, Mr. Toni Gogu, director of World Vision for Western Balkans and other important members of the civil society.
The conference focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, government and business.
Mr. Erion Veliaj, the mayor of Tirana, in his welcoming speech said: “I am very sceptical about participating in such events, but there are exceptions when organisations like World Vision and Nehemiah have really impressive CVs, with tangible work and results in the field. I think you are among the few ones doing so much work, because also in the civil society there is a big difference among those who are only talking and those who really work”.
Herolinda Shkullaku, the executive director of Nehemiah Gateway Foundation in Albania said: “I really hope we can educate the next generation, our children, to see and respect others and not only themselves and to be part of a society which has dignity and respect for others. Perhaps we cannot do miracles, but from my experience if we act like this, things will change.”
Toni Gogu, director of World Vision for Western Balkans said: “Oligerta is 13 years old. She lives in Skroske village. She is paralysed. She doesn’t walk, nor talk and often suffers serious attacks of epilepsy. Luljeta, her mother, feeds her only through a syringe. During these 13 years Oligerta, the only daughter of the family, never left her home which is 40 minutes away from Prrenjas and 30 minutes from Librazhd by car. Luljeta feels unable to help her daughter who is isolated at home, with no possibilities to walk or talk.
This is why we want to go to Oligerta’s and to other 30 children’s home in Librazhd, not only to say “hello”, but to offer them specialised medical services, education, information and psychosocial support, which they and their families desperately need. We want to bring these services close to the homes of these children”.
One of the main findings of the study conducted by World Vision and Save the Children regarding children with disabilities showed that 10.7 per cent of children aged 2-17 in Albania are disabled. 92 per cent of them do not have access to the integrated services in specialised centers. At least 28 per cent of the parents are asking for rehabilitation services for their children; 24.7 per cent of them are asking for inclusive education and 37.6 per cent do not have the financial means to pay for basic services. The study shows that 16.5 per cent of children with disabilities aged 5-9 years and 13.1 per cent of children aged 10-14 years are excluded from the education system.