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Transforming Lives

Language: English | Shqip
A man works in front of a computer screen

If a courtroom is not scheduled for use, chances are it will not be used.

Vera Lesko opened the Vatra Psychosocial Center, Albania's first center to provide assistance to victims of trafficking.

On first appearance, Vera Lesko seems like any gentle, good-humored, and loving Albanian mother. And she is. Yet, this countenance masks the determination that propelled her to the forefront of the battle against human trafficking in Albania.

Authentic Albania key-shaped logo

For a small Balkan country that just 20 years ago was completely closed to foreigners, Albania has come a long way to overcome its isolation, building both infrastructure and a reputation for hospitality that has grown a burgeoning travel industry.

A man holds a block of cheese in a cheese storage facility

Ferdinand Gjata began his business after the communist regime in Albania fell in 1991. The dairy industry was non-existent then with individual farmers processing their own products and selling only at the local level. Ferdinand was one of the first dairy processors to sign up with USAID’s Land O’ Lakes Good Management Practices program.

Teaching from a wheelchair at home in Tirana, Teuta Halilaj (center) inspires her students with her positive attitude.

After an automobile accident several years ago, Teuta Halilaj’s life changed. In a moment, her whole environment became accessible only from a wheelchair and her self-confi dence dwindled. Then she realized, “If you want life to smile for you, you must smile fi rst. We women with disabilities must make that fi rst step and change our fate.”

Smile she did, becoming a voice for people with disabilities in Tirana. As an active member of the Albanian Disability Rights Foundation, supported by USAID, Halilaj was chosen to represent Albania in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability, winning a tuition scholarship to the American English Institute in Eugene, Oregon.