By Giorgia Lee, European Council of Religious Leaders
Religions for Peace’s Interreligious Council of Albania (IRC Albania)launched a multi-religious humanitarian initiative,distributing emergency aid toorphans and vulnerable families who wereimpacted by a devastating earthquake in November 2019, andnow are challenged by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. Fifteen religious, civil society and government leaders launched the initiative with the National Association of Orphans in the townlet of Laç,unloading a full truck of supplies for orphans. IRCAlbania youth volunteers continued the effort, delivering another 175 packages of food and disinfectant tofamilies in need in Kurbin, Durrës and Tirana.
Religions for Peace and its affiliated regional body, the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL), were able to support this immense humanitarian effort through the Multi-religious Humanitarian Fund.
Dr. Genti Kruja, the General Secretary of IRC Albania, says that religious communities immediately “responded with respect and adhered to the specific guidelines set out by the Albanian health institutions upon Covid-19 emergence in the country.” Dr. Kruja.
Feeling compelled to do more to support communities in need, IRC Albania launched this project, promoting the collaboration of Christians, Muslims, youth and women from the various departments of the Interreligious Council of Albania. IRC Albania’s interfaith women and youth committees were “very excited to organise this event. The involvement of young people from different faiths and traditions highlighted a feeling of unconditional support and love.”
This is just one model of how Religions for Peace and ECRL in collaboration with IRC Albania, have come together and responded to thedetrimental impact of the corona virus through multi-religious collaboration. Dr. Kruja said that“It was amazing to see a Muslim female teacher with a Christian nun, and a Muslim Imam with a Christian Priest holding aid boxes together.”
Dr.Kruja explained that IRC Albania is well connected to various educational and religious institutions across Albania, which has provided an established network for multi-religious and multi-stakeholder response when tragedy strikes, as for instance during the 2019 earthquake, when places of worship opened themselves up to the vulnerable.
Albania has seen a resurgence of religion in the last decades following the communist era, as coexistence has now become part of the country’s national identity and Dr. Kruja welcomes the new forms of collaboration this has brought to the country. “It has had a positive impact, because it has brought cooperation in a new way, that between Muslims and Christians, as well as women and youth. Different religious communities are like pieces of different colours in a mosaic of interfaith harmony.”
For more videos, graphics and knowledge, you can follow the work of the IRC Albania on their website http://knfsh.al/
This project was funded by Religions for Peace’s Multi-religious Humanitarian Fund. You can support multi-religious collaboration and action for peace now and beyond COVID-19 by supporting Religions for Peace’s work for peace around the globe.