The "Center for the Protection of the Rights of Disabled People" in Koplik is a room in the same building that houses the offices of the municipality of Malesi and Madhe, in northern Albania, but with an independent entrance. Here, every morning, 10 to 15 children and young people, between 4 and 35 years old, meet under the care of Brisi, a lady from Koplik who has dedicated her life to taking care of these children and fighting for their right not to be invisible.
In Albania, as in many other countries in the world, people with disabilities are put aside and viewed with distrust. Most of the young in the Brisi's care live in difficult family situations, with unstable economic situations, and often even the shame of family members in showing others the disability of a family member.
If a cultural change occurs in Albania, it will certainly come from young people. In fact, for some months now, every Tuesday, a few young people from the Salesian NGO "International Volunteer for Development" (VIS), together with other local youths, have been going to the center to spend a few hours with Brisi and her youngsters or invite them to the youth center open by VIS to dance, sing or draw.
Furthermore, the students of the high school of Koplik organized a morning of awareness-raising on the theme of disability during which, in the presence of the young from Brisi, they shared poems and personal thoughts, dances and songs to thank the center's young for their joy and vitality.
At the end of the day, which was also attended by VIS, a student said: “At first we perceived it as a school requirement and we thought we had to teach them something, but we soon realized we had much to learn from the strength of spirit, joy and unconditional love that these guys can give everyone without distinction, without filters or discrimination."
The recipe is simple: knowledge and direct relationship with those who are perceived as "different" breaks down all walls and frees, opens the view towards broader horizons.