By Edison Balla –
Bulqiza is a town in northeastern Albania. Like a considerable number of small municipalities, this town “suffers” from scarce activism and lack of civil society organizations.
Youth activism is undoubtedly one of the challenges –my greatest personal challenge, indeed– that made me return to my hometown, Bulqiza.
Whenever the municipality conducted activities, such as training, informative briefings, etc. with the youth, we could plainly see the pessimism and lack of trust on the part of many people in what we undertook. Initially youth initiatives did not ensure continuity, and this called for an effective and sustainable organization.
This was the very reason that triggered the creation of the Bulqiza Youth Board. A sustainable structure to revitalize community life, this Board was the first serious initiative undertaken by the young men and women of Bulqiza. The USAID Planning and Local Governance Project (PLGP) became the main supporter and partner of the youth board in their efforts to activate youth and have this organization officially recognized by the Municipality of Bulqiza.
I work for the Municipality, and I see increasing youth activism as a necessity for my town. This is where PLGP contribution has proven invaluable; Its experts have followed up on every Youth Board activity. This work is worthy of much appreciation and gratitude.
In cooperation with the municipality and Arberia High School, the Bulqiza Youth Board so far has conducted many training activities with the assistance of PLGP experts. The Board is now officially recognized as a partner through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the mayor and the board leader. Other activities performed by the board seek to enhance youth involvement and engagement in local decision-making and community life.
We are sure this established practice will continue in the years to come in our town. With PLGP support we have succeeded in creating an organization that will be sustainable as new youth join, and given the increasing interest, will continue to contribute to a better life in Bulqiza.
I have always held the opinion that investment in youth is the greatest venture a country, organization, or institution can make. It is so rewarding to give youth the opportunity to contribute. The case of Bulqiza shows that energetic and enthusiastic youth can make a change with the proper mechanisms and tools in place. We are here to support them, and I am convinced that we can still do better. There is more work to be done, and we are prepared to welcome any challenge.
Head of the European Integration and Foreign Assistance Unit of the Municipality of Bulqiza, Edison Balla also supports the Media Office. One of the original initiators of Bulqiza Youth Board, Balla has been a civil society activist in the last few years.
Photo by Erald Lamja