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A school for Gashaj

The Gashaj project, which was completed in 2000, aimed to rebuild a primary school in a disadvantaged area of Albania and promote education in the region.

Value: US$ 72,778

Funds: DFID – Department For International Development, Humanitarian Office – London

Presentation

The region of Malesia e Madhe (North-West Albania) is one of the poorest regions in the country, and one of the most forgotten by the State and major organizations. In 1999, we met with the local organization NPK (Ndihme per Komunat – Community Assistance) involved in this region, in close collaboration with the local community. They worked in such a way that in April 2000, a new school was opened in Gashaj, a village near the Montenegrin border.

But their work should not stop with the simple reconstruction of the school; they had also decided to equip it with school furniture, to make it an ecological model school (with an ecological septic tank so as not to discharge dirty water into the lake, then the sea). A structure capable of receiving new ideas from the population was needed to constantly improve its work, in terms of equipment and community services.

The old school did not deserve this name at all. In a catastrophic state (leaks from the roof and broken walls, doors and windows), it was also far too small for the 100 children who went there every day, there was no toilet, the children had only one kind of pit outside the school to use as a toilet, even in winter. The equipment and furniture were not in sufficient quantity or in a very good state of conservation. Because of its geographical location at the foot of a hill, it was common for the school to be flooded during the winter, causing extensive damage to the building itself, which could not be renovated. The first concern was to find a new location for the construction: in this respect, the participation of the local community in the project was invaluable, as people contributed to the purchase of 1000 square metres of land for the project.