Local Plans to Boost Development
Training a New Generation

By Robert Korkuti and Lori Memo –

The Pivotal Role of Youth in Improving Local Communities

Ajdi and Fatri are students of excellence and active youngsters representing the newly established youth boards in Bulqize and Cerrik. Although from different cities, cultures and experiences, what brings Ajdi and Fatri together is their vision for the future and the motivation to provide contributions in improving the quality of life in their communities. Elected by their peers, they have been officially recognized by the respective municipalities, thanks to Memorandums of Understanding signed in May 2018 between the Youth Boards and their Municipalities.

PLGP has supported the establishment of the boards, as well as provided an initial round of training on volunteerism and activism. Since the commencement of the work with youth selected from high schools of Bulqize and Cerrik, we have been very impressed with their commitment to civic responsibility, their visions for the future, and their willingness to address and solve problems their communities face.

Since the first training of the group focused on the essential role of youth in active citizenship and social changes, as well as on their dream town, Ajdi distinguished herself with her dynamic and determined role, consequently the group voted her as their representative with the municipality. Ajdi is a girl who brings contagious energy and enthusiasm, and her commitment has energized and empowered other girls and boys on the board. In addition, Ajdi is a member is the Albanian national champion female handball team of Cerrik.

Fatri is a boy that assumes responsibility and has a quiet sense of leadership. He is a high school graduate and was student council president of the only high school of Bulqize. Fatri and his fellow peers on the youth board bring a remarkable vision of their dream town. They envision a Bulqiza that has the highest standards in urban planning, education, employment, etc. Fatri and the board shared their concerns on security matters that need to be addressed including violence in schools, the use of marijuana, road safety, domestic violence, mine worker safety, and other problems in their community which might lead to radicalization and violent extremism.

Municipality of Cerrik has encouraged volunteering initiatives and almost 70 young people have registered to serve as volunteers. The Mayor of Cerrik requested support from the USAID project to formalize this group, which will support the Municipality of Cerrik not only in organizing and participating in community activities, but also in being part of consultative and decision-making processes. Based on the Mayor’s request PLGP facilitated the creation of the youth board of 16 girls and 10 boys representing four high schools in the municipality.

Youth participation in extracurricular activities is an important element in their social and civic formation. Participation and empowerment of youth groups in community activities also reduces opportunities for involvement in crime and violence. Both Fatri and Ajdi share the same vision in this regard. In their dream towns, libraries, sports venues, art clubs and theatres have a special place and are integral parts of the community.

Strengthening civil society to build the community’s resilience is one of the main objectives of the Albanian National Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism.

In an effort to raise awareness and build capacities in the prevention of violent extremism at the local level, PLGP has conducted training sessions for local government officials in Cerrik and Bulqize, focused on the role of the municipalities and civic society organizations to tackle the problem.

Beyond working with youth, PLGP will partner with our pilot municipalities in building additional community structures like Citizens Advisory Panels and Local Safety Councils, which have proven effective and replicated by other municipalities as mechanisms to build communities resiliency.

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