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Cross Cultural Exchange in Bled Lake, Slovenia, 24th – 28th November 2014

 

The Medaille Trust, who runs several shelters in the UK, invited Different and Equal, the NGO running the shelter for trafficked victims in Albania, to come together with 10 people from Albania and 10 from the UK to participate at the workshop ‘Cross cultural exchange’ organized between the UK, Albania and Slovenia” from November 24th – 28th 2014 on the Bled Lake, Slovenia. Mary Ward Loreto was invited to send two members of staff to be present at this cross cultural exchange. The Manager of Mary Ward Women’s Project, Ana Stakaj and the MWW Northern Areas Assistant Manager, Irena Kraja went to the event and both members of MWL staff had already established a strong working relationship with the Medaille Trust and had been to the UK to visit the shelters of the Medaille Trust and to continue with on-going work both with Albanian victims in the UK and through prevention work in Albania with vulnerable women. The following is their account of this enterprise.

1. Cross Cultural Exchange in Slovenia, November 2014
1. Cross Cultural Exchange in Slovenia, November 2014

This workshop aimed to provide necessary information on the different realities of human trafficking in UK, Albania and Slovenia, the approach of working with human trafficking victims, training of staff in direct work with the victims, and also to strengthen the collaboration between the parties.
This event started with a presentation of the situation of trafficking in Albania, led by Marjana Meshi, CEO of Different and Equal and followed by a presentation of the Medaille Trust Development Manager, Charlotte Kirkwood, on the situation of trafficking in UK.
Sr. Andreja Caks presented to the teams the beautiful Slovenian landscapes and also the situation of trafficking in Slovenia.
The methodology of this workshop included direct training, sharing experiences, study cases, team building and workshops on:
–          Dealing with conflict and aggression;
–          Substance use and misuse;
–          Protection and safety for the victims,
–          Professional boundaries;
–          Managing victim self-risk;
–          Working with child victims;
–          Therapeutic interventions.
The facilitation of these processes was led by Diane Killian, a professional consultant on social and health aspects, hired by the Medaille Trust.
Importance was given to the safety of survivors of trafficking and the staff. According to this, a training session was dedicated to conflict and fight management techniques. Participants shared their own experiences related to this and the way they dealt with issues of conflict. Caritas Slovenia, who manage a shelter for the survivors of trafficking, explained their strategy for protection and safety. They moved their premises each two or three years to different areas. D&E explained that the policies of the shelter related to staff protection, prohibit them from sharing personal information about survived victims, except their real name.
Each group shared their methodology and services offered for better rehabilitation of the survived victims. The main services included counseling, skype sessions, art therapy, vocational courses, gym, involvement in the house work, foreign language courses. The participants shared their experiences relating to the collaboration with the statutory services. The UK demonstrated an experience of good support offered to the survived victims, by the statutory services. This included economic support, and health services, which Albania does not receive.
Two police officers, Phil Brewer and Karen Anstiss from the Metropolitan Police in UK, heading the anti-trafficking and kidnapping unit, explained the way in which the Met police is organized to fight human trafficking through, the intelligence, the denunciation, interrogation process of the victims, the process of investigation of the traffickers, and referring the victims to the shelters or other services.
 

Team building

One of the highest points of this event was the team building facilitated by the excellent, Garry Smith, a Salvation Army specialist. The aim of this activity was bonding though having fun. It had a certain therapeutic effect with the participants, as all are dealing in their everyday jobs with issues, traumas and challenges. All were very open to work and enjoy the company of each other.

2. Cross Cultural Exchange in Slovenia, November 2014
2. Cross Cultural Exchange in Slovenia, November 2014

The bonding outside the working hours was important in the fact that it was at these times that the key workers of MWW had the most effective communication with the key workers of Medaille Trust. They expressed the importance and effectiveness of the ongoing exchange of experiences and visits between Albania and UK as it provided the necessary knowledge about the culture and system of each country and the challenges faced during the mission. The importance of keeping in contact through Skype sessions was stressed as very important not only with counseling for the Albanian victims, but also between the managers as a peer group friendship support.
Achievements: Development, Bonding within staffs, Empowerment, Collaboration.
The final session of this workshop was to set up goals for the follow up of this event.
The CEO’s of Medaille Trust, D&E, Metropolitan Police and the Manager of MWW Group outcomes were:
–          Expand our collaboration cross border through online assistance;
–          Work to find funds for having another similar workshop for the next year;
–          The Metropolitan Police will use their media facilities to promote the collaboration in the UK, Albania will raise awareness for further similar cross border collaboration.
It was an important experience to have and it was a very enriching professional experience. The facilitators were excellent and provided techniques and information to be implemented with the MWW staff in our everyday works. We were both very pleased and thankful that it was made possible to have this experience.
With gratitude, Ana Stakaj & Irena Kraja