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PREPARE Network Is Promoting New Activists For Rural Development- Meet Albana Hasmeta from Albania

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Albana is a youth activist, primary dedicating her time to work for the Albanian Network for Rural Development. She joined ANRD in its first months of operation. Apart from involvement in the Network, Albana has been actively engaged with youth, mainly in training and peer education, and coordinating small scale projects and initiatives. Existing knowledge and experience, as well as professional motivation toward a more solid role of rural youth in the country’s development, support activism and professional growth in rural development.

Albana graduated from the Master’s Program in Criminal Justice and Social Work Services at the University of Tirana. Being keenly interested in personal and professional growth, she has continuously been looking for relevant opportunities.

Before joining the ANRD, Albana was volunteering in one of the ANRD founding member organizations in research related projects. At the time, the joint efforts came to be fruitful with ANRD legal formalization and she was requested to work for the Network, an invitation that she accepted immediately and gladly.

Currently, Albana is working as Project Coordinator at the Albanian Network for Rural Development. ANRD is a genuine civil society initiative that strives to contribute to sustainable development of rural communities by taking up an active role in the reform process of the sector. As a policy network in the domain of rural development, ANRD has a clear vision that most of its efforts should focus on the evident need for advocacy for more support for the population of rural areas.  In this context, Albana’s role is to animate the Network through maintaining a dynamic communication and interaction, and to contribute to youth empowerment and mobilisation. She has gained further experience as a US State Department Professional Fellow during October-November 2018. In the framework of this opportunity, she was engaged for nearly 6 months in an extensive community mobilization process focusing on rural youth issues, leadership and community outreach.

An initiative currently under implementation by ANRD and supported by UNDP is called “Boosting rural youth ICT and soft skills to increase integration and employability in the labour market”. This is a small initiative that aims to strengthen the role of young men and women in a remote municipality through enhanced access to the labour market and other development opportunities.

Albana is proud that this initiative has come to life as a result of her efforts, as she wrote the project proposal. She is part of the project team, highly involved in all project phases. As the project progresses and the planned outputs are being delivered, she meets regularly with the youth (project beneficiaries) and can feel the impact of her efforts. It is very similar to the feeling of a seed planting, and seeing its growth.

Complementary to the work with the Network, during June-September 2018 Albana was involved in a community mobilisation process with rural youth in the Cerrik municipality, Albania, to engage and mobilise them in order to be active members in the community. During this period, together with a core youth group in the community, she organised community outreach, various groups’ meetings and awareness campaigns to increase community’s participation in improving their livelihood.

Albana’s family has always supported personal and professional growth. They offer a great emotional support, genuine communication, continuously motivating and inspiring to ask for more and better. As they are aware of Albanian rural communities’ needs and challenges, they continuously encourage Albana to give a positive contribution through her work, believing in what she does and ANRD stands for.  They are the biggest fans and supporters of ANRD initiatives.

Rural development has become an important aspect of work, but not only. Being involved in interactions with people living in rural communities, seeing on the one hand their way of living and difficulties they face, and on the other hand their fight for better living conditions and how they stand firm to continue life in rural areas, gives Albana the strength to be an advocate of these communities. Her commitment to development of rural areas goes beyond her specific work, as rural development itself comprises more than just a physical work process.

Albana sees rural development as a way toward food security, resilient communities and Albanian identity – it is worth contributing!!!