Multifunctional Community Center for Family Preventing Human Trafficking
The case of Marta, a single mother from Shkodra
Marta* is a 35-year-old single mother who moved from a village to the city of Shkodra, 10 years ago.
Raised in a rural area with limited economic possibilities and married into a family where harmony lacked, the 35-year-old woman decided to move to the city with her husband, longing for a better life and an opportunity to rebuild their future together. However, things took an unexpected turn, and the changes were not as positive as she had hoped.
"One year after we started living in Shkodër, I got pregnant, and my daughter was born. Just because I gave birth to a girl, no one wanted to see me again. They told me that if it had been a boy, things would have been different. Although this was not in my hands. Since then, I have come to realize that I have been facing difficulties alone. Besides my parents, I have received no support from my husband or his family. Currently, he no longer lives with us and only comes home once every 2-3 months, but our daughter doesn't call him her dad either.”
The challenges that confronted this young mother were far from few. Her daughter only began to speak at the age of 4, raising concerns about a potential autism diagnosis.
Everyone told me that she was a lazy child. Even the doctors who visited her suggested that I should wait. Two months after she turned four, she started speaking in complete sentences. I felt relieved. After that, the eye problems started. My daughter underwent surgery at the age of 6.
However, her struggles did not stop there. Her daughter began facing health issues with her kidneys, one of which was found to be enlarged. Regular tests every 3 months were necessary to monitor and manage the condition. Alongside her daughter's health challenges, the burden grew even heavier as she started school.
"When I enrolled her in school at the age of 7, in the first grade, the girl could neither write nor read. I had to apply for a support teacher to assist her, as the doctor informed me that my daughter is hyperactive and leading to some learning difficulties. Unable to address my request, the school referred me to the Community Center for the Family No. 5, where I met the staff of Terre des hommes. By participating in the psycho-social activities at the center, my daughter was able to enhance her writing and reading abilities. She began making friends and socializing, which was a big change from her previous isolation. But through the counseling sessions I attended at the MFCC No.5, I also gained a better understanding as a parent of how to approach the girl and meet her needs more effectively."
In addition to the challenges, she faced with her daughter's learning difficulties, she had to confront a deeply emotional moment when her daughter became a victim of bullying.
"Her classmates used to take her food and pencils. They didn't let her play. Her peers told her: You don't know anything. You don't know how to tie your shoes. You don’t know how to play. I learned all this late, after my daughter had completed her first grade at the school where she was bullied, because she never told me anything. Until one day, I went to pick her up from school. When I entered at her classroom, I found her crying. The teacher was not in the class. Her friends were making fun of her for pulling her hair. I took my daughter outside the class and went to the school principal. There, I immediately asked to arrange for my daughter's transfer to another school.”
Thanks to the support of the Multifunctional Community Center for Family No. 5 in the Municipality of Shkodër, in cooperation with the school, Marta has witnessed remarkable improvements in her daughter. The 35-year-old's story stands as a testament to the transformative power of a mother who is willing to fight for her child's well-being and safety. As Marta's daughter, there may be many others who lack the courage to denounce bullying, so the young mother has a message:
Anyone who notices someone, particularly a distressed child, should stay nearby, offer words of support, and refrain from mocking or laughing at them.
This project is initiated within the program framework “Transformation of the National Response to Human Trafficking in and from Albania” implemented by Terre Des Homme, led by UNICEF Albania and supported by British Embassy in Tirana.
*Marta is a nickname used for the purpose of safeguarding the identity of the woman. Every resemblance between her story and other people, with the same name and age, is a pure coincidence.