Victims Voices: Elira

Elira received assistance through the NGO ‘Different and Equal’ in Albania

“I don’t remember good things,” says 19-year-old Elira when asked about her childhood in Albania. She often went hungry because her family was so poor. Her parents were abusive toward her, especially her mother.

“Around age 14, my whole life crashed.” Elira recalls. After her parents divorced, she moved to Kosovo with her mother in search of a better life. “I worked as a waitress and the other part of the day as a dancer. My mother and her friend introduced me to different men with whom I had sexual relations. In those times, I didn’t think the way I think today,” Elira says. “Only now do I understand that I was a victim of exploitation.”

Eventually Elira returned to Albania. She wanted to work in Greece, but lacking documentation, she was detained at the border. She told the police her story and was sent to Albania’s national reception centre for trafficking victims. There, she was referred to Different and Equal, which provided her with counseling and skills training that helped her find work as a tailor. Today her life is back on track. “Now I can handle problems better,” Elira says. “I’m working and I’m feeling very good.”

Different and Equal provides comprehensive and sustainable reintegration assistance to Albanian victims of human trafficking and their families. Its services include temporary accommodation, medical and psychological treatment, education and vocational training, family mediation, financial support for housing, and support for securing employment or starting small businesses.

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