Albania (MNN) — Social welfare in Albania is scarce. Providing help for orphans, or at-risk children or mothers is difficult because funding for such care isn't available. That's why Bethany Christian Services is working in Albania.
Bethany's Albania Director Agim Xhumari (ah-geem Jew-MAHR-ee) says they started helping in Albania in 1993. "Its services started with children in need with international adoption, but then the impact of Bethany has also expanded to women and children at risk."
According to Xhumari, Bethany's work in the country has been important. "Albania didn't have any social services at all before the 1990s, and Bethany has been the agency that established the first training program for social workers in Albania."
Xhumari describes the basics of their services. "[We] help children in the orphanages to be reunited with the family, or to go through adoption, but the first priority is preserving the children with the family."
Now, Bethany does more than that. They're helping with crisis pregnancies and other women at risk. Xhumari says, "Bethany helps by providing counseling to restore their lives. The intention is to keep the mother and the children together after the birth. That's how Bethany addresses women and children at risk."
However, the needs far outpace the funding. Xhumari says Christians are needed to help sponsor women and children at $25 a month. "Bethany tries to help the children in need with a direct financial and social service and also women — helping them altogether to restore their lives."
Sponsoring these women and children is just part of the partnership that provides opportunities for outreach. "Bethany is also partnering with churches, partnering with a group of volunteers who are Christians and are working together with Bethany local staff."
Human trafficking is a major issue in Albania. Some women are tricked into traveling outside the country for work, only to be forced into sex slavery. Babies, on the other hand, are often sold into adoption black market.