Kasandra sewing

Start afresh

“We were young. We had just gotten married, and we had almost nothing. We had no house, no stable employment and no income. We had to do something and our outlook here was bleak, so we decided to leave Albania,” this is how Kasandra, from Fushë-Krujë, recalls her decision to immigrate to Germany five years ago together with her husband, in search for a better life.

Despite their efforts to integrate in their new community, the German state authorities did not grant the 24-year-old’s family residency permits. They’ve returned to their homeland five months ago, and Kasandra says they’re facing the same difficulties as before leaving.

“In Germany, we spent two years in a camp, then we were given government housing for the next two years. Just as things were looking up, our adventure unexpectedly ended,” she continues.

Now the family of four lives in one of the neighborhoods of Fushë-Krujë. The only space available to them is a small room in a building owned by their relatives. Despite its size, the room is welcoming. Kasandra has made the most of her situation by creating a warm environment for her two daughters, Klea and Dea.

“Education of daughters is my priority. I want them to be independent in life”, she tells, adding that her daughters speak not only Albanian, but the Romani language and a little German as well.

The family relies on her husband’s income that generates from trading, whereas Kasandra stays at home with her daughters. Nonetheless, she didn’t return empty-handed from Germany. She picked up a new profession, and now is trying to find the right opportunity to use it in Fushë-Krujë.

“Throughout my time in the camp I took a sewing course and discovered a new passion. Products I sewed were of a high quality. Of all the course takers, I was the best. I would like to work as a seamstress, but I haven’t been able to find a job yet," says Kasandra sharing her dreams and challenges she faces.

Nonetheless, she is confident that little by little she will build her skills, because World Vision Albania’s “Improving family abilities to handle emergency situations" project in Krujë Municipaity has given her new opportunities.

Seeing the need for aid, as well as the potential to generate income through self-employment, the programme has supported her with a sewing machine. The talented and young woman has an optimistic approach. She is now trying to establish her family’s roots.

“This is a big opportunity for me. Here it’s very hard for women, especially from the Roma community, to find employment and work. With my husband’s help, I want to start a business to support my family and create new opportunities for my daughters. My plan is to start small and sew drapes, bedsheets, pillow cases, with the hope to expand my activity,” Kasandra expains, hopeful that she’ll make it.

Her family is one of the 115 in Krujë District receiving support in building resilient income sources. The project’s scope also includes helping families improve their abilities to face future emergencies.

Fifty of these families are being supported with agricultural products, whereas 65 other families have been supported through food and hygiene packs.

This intervention is within the scope of the “Earthquake Social Protection Response”, a UNDP Albania project funded by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Finland and Norway. The project will support the Albanian Government and three earthquake impacted municipalities – Durrës, Shijak and Kruja - in the process of designing and translating the policy intent into proper local actions to ensure that men, women, girls and boys living in poverty, or vulnerable situations, intersecting with post-earthquake conditions, have access to integrated, quality social services.