August 2018

PRESENT SITUATION

In August, the Albanian press reported on numerous conflicts, unfortunately including some homicides. On the 10th of August, a man was killed in Shkoder for reasons that are still unclear but that, according to the police, could be connected to a blood feud that has already caused the death of four other people. Few days later, on the 14th of August, the police arrested a 39 years old fugitive who had killed two people in 1999 in a blood feud.

SHARING WITH OTHERS, ACTIVITIES AND NEWS ABOUT THE PEACEWORKERS

We spent the first week of August in the Tropoja region, where we ran our annual Summer camp for children, girls, and women. Each group has engaged in different ways the theme of heroism: the kids through games and activities, while young girls and women through group discussions and personal reflections.

An especially meaningful episode has involved two kids who are cousins and come from a family involved in a blood feud: we talked about how to deal with conflicts and concluded that it is pointless to try to solve them through violence. We hope these can be small seeds of peace that one day will bring wonderful fruits. A representative of the Mary Ward Loreto foundation has participated to the summer camp by leading an art therapy session. It has been an additional opportunity for the participants to explore and express their feelings and experiences. These days, so dense of shared moments and games, have strengthened our bonds with the community in Tropoja where we will come back in the incoming months for our usual visits to families involved in blood feuds.
Once back in Shkoder, we resumed with our usual activities and escorted two women in prison to visit their husbands. We also took advantage of the warm summer weather to take a few day trips to the mountains and seaside with some families. In particular, we escorted a man, who has been self-isolated for a long time because of a blood feud, and his family to a village in the northern Albanian mountains: it was their first time back in their home town after 20 years.
This month, we have also been particularly close to a young couple who is going through a tough time because of their involvement in a blood feud. Despite their willingness to move beyond the killing of one of their closest loved ones, processing the past is a daunting task that is particularly challenging them.
Sharing happy moments and being close to people in the hardest times is crucial to us: it helps to shape a positive and safe context in which families involved in blood feuds can think with serenity about their future and that of their kids.
We thank the volunteers Elisa, who will leave at the end of August, and Paola, currently volunteering in Lebanon, who joined us for the Summer camp. We wish them to continue to spread seeds of peace wherever they will be.

Relationship with institutions and civil society
In August we met two Italian scout groups who were entertaining kids from different communities. They were curious about our work and our experience with families involved in blood feuds.
We also answered to the questions of two journalists, who came to visit us to further investigate the phenomenon of blood feuds and our work.
We continue to collaborate with other associations: AVS, an Italian association, came back to Shkoder and entertained kids from families involved in blood feuds with a clown show.