Shkodër, North Albania


An ambassador of her minority

IPA has been supporting a young romany student from Lezhë for the last few years. After taking her final exams at high school she has recently obtained a bachelor's degree at university – the first of her community in the whole town.


Born into a poor Roma family, handicapped and raped at the age of eleven, Anita had a terrible start in life. But thanks to an Italian organisation which is committed to helping Roma children to go to school in Lezhë, she managed to get into high school.That was the moment when IPA took over and began to support her. After passing her final exams she began to study geography at Shkodër University. Every year shebecame stronger and more self-confident and now, after a last turbulent year of studying, she has obtained a bachelor's degree.

Achieving this was not easy at all. Separated from her family, the young woman first of all had to get used to her new life in a big town. She made every effort and absolutely wanted to seize the opportunity. "She studied all the time", one of her room-mates commented. When the country came to a complete standstill during Anita's last year of university, because of a series of big demonstrations, she did not join the crowds in the streets. She wanted to use the time for her studies. This was a wise decision because after the demonstrations most students had to catch up in a short time on all they had missed. Anita wrote an essay about Roma culture, took part in excursions and studied intensively for her examinations. The exams at the end of term were almost immediately followed by those for the bachelor's degree. Anita was rewarded for her hard work, achieving a mark of 8 (10 being the top mark).Considering the fact that only 10 out of 35 students passed the exams, this result is even more outstanding.

Education – the new status symbol


Anita seems to have overcome her traumas. Together with her sister she was invited to join a meeting for representatives of minorities from all over Albania. There she received an award for her exemplary conduct which was more than justified because the influence of the two women on the younger Roma is immense. A lot of parents ask them for advice when it comes to planning a school education for their children. Within only a few years, education has become a status symbol in their community. Almost every Roma child is now dreaming of attending a high school, a vocational school or even a university. Anita is not only a good ambassador for other Roma: herperformance, her behaviour and her essay about Roma culture have shown her co-students that the prejudices concerning the Roma people are completely wrong.

Anita has already set herself a new target and has started to work for it. She would like to become a geography teacher at a high school and is presently studying for a master's degree in that subject. Her journey goes on, accompanied by IPA.

A model for many youngsters of her community