Natasja fights prejudice against the Roma community in Albania

Melina Audiu, Endri Audiu, Katerina Myrteli. Photo: Malin von Strauss.
Melina Audiu, Endri Audiu, Katerina Myrteli. Photo: Malin von Strauss.
The children at the preschool in Morava, Albania, wave to their teacher Natasja. The day is over and it's time to go home.

Natasja is standing in the door waving back to the little ones leaving the schoolyard.

– I always miss the children’s smiles when they leave for the day, says Natajsa.

Natasja Qose has worked at the preschool, which is run by We Effect and our local partner organisation Amaro-Drom, for six years. As a teacher, she has been working for 40 years.

When she was about to start her new job six years ago, at the preschool for mostly Roma children, she met resistance. The Roma population in Albania lives in exclusion and prejudices are common. It was only her husband who supported her.

– But the children received me with such warmth the very first day and the parents have introduced me to the community. Now I bring my friends here to show how wrong they are. Prejudices are based on ignorance, says Natajsa.

Only 27 percent of the Roma six-year-olds in Albania are enrolled in school and they often lack access to other public services. Through the project, the parents get support to register their children and the preschool is an important step to further education.

– Without education, the children risk ending up on the street. The preschool gives them the foundation to being able to continue studying and to build a future, says Natasja.