By Olta Myslimi, Alumni Coordinator for Albania
On April 22nd, YES Alumni Albania organized a clean-up activity in one of Tirana’s large neighborhoods in honor of Global Youth Service Day. This event gathered alumni and young volunteers in one mission: keeping the environment around us clean!
The alumni were separated in three groups and spread out in different spots to clean as much as the area as fast as we could. While, we were engaged in the activity, a dozen or so children who were playing nearby asked us what we were doing and if they could join us at this activity. It made us happy to see that spirit of helping the community around you at such a young age.
The children were a huge help and what made the event even greater was the visibility it had! People who were sitting on park benches and nearby cafes greeted us and said “It is not something you see everyday. Only a few people would take the initiative to come to a polluted area, clean it and set an example for all those who live here–to keep their community clean because keeping the environment clean means having a better health condition for us and our children.” We are very glad to see that, at least, we have spread a message to the community and hopefully we will keep doing it in future activities. We think that everyone is ready to help but they step back. The only thing that needs to be done is to be the example, to be the change and to make the others follow you because from one million people, someone must be the first to make a step forward.
The second activity, took place at the school for children who are visually impaired to celebrate Earth Day and emphasize the importance of taking care of and keeping our environment clean.
YES alumni Olta Myslimi, ’12; Marsid Nuho, ’11; Klea Troka, ’12; Elvana Qeli, ’12; and office director Linda Meniku bought 10 flower vases and gave them as a gift to the school as a symbol of this event. First, we were invited to be part of a wonderful concert the students of the school had prepared for us, which included songs, reciting poems, and a special thank you in both languages.
It was so heartfelt seeing those students finding the power within them and adapt to society with the best they can. We were impressed by the amazing talents and courage that these children possessed. We were also able to take advantage of our time there to make a short presentation about YES program, to the students and their parents and invited them to take the initiative to apply and trust in themselves. Being blind shouldn’t prevent them from reaching their dreams and learning about new culture. We offered to help the students improve their English skills and prepare them for the exam in October.
This experience taught us two very important messages: the first one is that we shall always take care of each other because we are all beings, members of the big family of humans and the second message is “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of weakness.”