What’s going on in the YES and A-SMYLE Communities?

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What’s going on in the YES South East Europe and A-SMYLE Communities?

In Albania, alumni are making a difference in the lives of children without parents.

YES alumnae in Albania prepare packages of presents for orphans


By Ina Gjika
Alumni Coordinator
YES ’10, Albania

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year when people celebrate with their families and receive presents. However, unfortunately, not everyone has the chance to celebrate it in this warm, familiar atmosphere. There are children who do not have their parents and feel inferior to their mates because of this.

That’s why some of us YES Albania alumnae decided to help some of these kids by organizing an activity with the children of “Zyber Hallulli” orphanage in Tirana. We talked to the director of the orphanage to get information about the ages, shoes sizes, and preferences of the children. We then decided to go shopping for presents. This was an entertaining process, especially wrapping the presents. However, the best thing was spending time with the children teaching them songs and poems in English. They were happy and enthusiastic all the time.

Finally, on December 23rd, everyone was ready for the surprises prepared with love and attention. Representatives from the American Embassy in Tirana and the American Corner were also present that day. They were our special guests, eager to enjoy all the performances. The children sang Christmas songs, danced, and recited poems. They were amazing at expressing their talents and received everyone’s applause.

Then, the alumnae, Anisa Hoxha, Emiljana Hoti, Redona Collaku, and I, started to distribute the presents by calling out the children’s names. The presents consisted of booties, thick socks, and Santa hats. After that, everyone was invited to a small banquet of snacks we had prepared. Our guests from the American Embassy and the American Corner were left with very good impressions and offered to collaborate on different similar activities in the future.

In the end, the children were happy and grateful for the wonderful time we spent together. It was incredible how with little money, but with so much love, we helped to make these children say hello to Christmas.

To learn more about what current YES and A-SMYLE participants and alumni have been up to this Winter, check out the latest edition of “Balkan Youth Voices” here!