Factoid: Despite recent economic growth, Albania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. About 12 percent of Albanians are unemployed and a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. The agricultural sector, which employs over half of Albania's workforce, has struggled in recent years.
School dropout rates are a growing concern. Most children enroll in primary school, but only about half actually attend and finish. This is especially common among the ethnic minority groups.
Project Managers: Michel Ramond, Bernadine Wolford
Balkans Relief Mission was created during the Yugoslavian War, and began visiting refugee camps, military hospitals and children's centers in Croatia and Slovenia, bringing food, clothing, school supplies and medicine along with musical performances.
The initiative later expanded to include Bosnia (1995), conducting post war trauma therapy for children using music and drama, as well as performing morale-boosting concerts for thousands of NATO peacekeeping troops. Other Balkans Relief Mission programs included mine awareness programs in schools in conjunction with SFOR and UN police, drug prevention programs at schools, and a computer literacy course at a Red Cross center.
Balkans Relief Mission became a registered association in Slovenia under the name "Sonce v Scru", leaving others to run the new organization, while the original Project Managers Michel Ramond and Bernadine Wolford relocated to Albania.
The new organization formed in Albania, Balkans Relief Mission Albania, is involved with the following activities:
- Visitation to pediatric wards for cancer patients at two main hospitals.
- Foreign language lessons and creative activities for underprivileged children and teenagers.
- Creation and production of children's educational publications.
- Christian counseling