| AAI focuses its energies in five distinct
1. Establish lending libraries in the five schools of the Shkreli School District.
In 2002 when the Albanian Alps Institute was established, there were essentially no library books in any of the 11 schools in the Shkreli School District in Malesia e Madhe. Steve first took books to Boga in the winter of 2001. When Steve and Terri returned to Boga in the fall of 2002, they took more. In the US we take lending libraries for granted. But in Albania the very idea of "loaning" a book to someone and trusting them to bring it back, is a concept that is new since Communism collapsed. In our Shkreli School District students have about 250 books in each library to choose from. We continually buy books as funds become available.
In 2005 three kindergartens were established--in Reci, Zagora, and Dedaj. Since then AAI have provided over 400 heavy board books appropriate for this age group. Each year these kindergartens also receive money for supplies.
2. Basic school supplies.
Albania is the poorest country in Europe. The schools are frequently just building shells, simply partitioned into classrooms with cheap chalkboards on one wall and very basic, decrepit desks. The children on the other hand are very bright and eager to learn.
Providing such basics as better chalk boards and chalk; art supplies including paper, colored pencils and crayons, scissors, etc.; microscopes, and other science laboratory equipment makes a big difference in the children's education. AAI has also continues to supply reference books and dictionaries.
AAI's goal is to create a path for students from kindergarten through university. In 2011 AAI scholarships are helping students at all levels including 5 university students, and 26 high school students.
AAI is particularly interested in seeing girls go on to high school. It has concerned Steve from the inception that girls in Shkrel do not have an equal chance as boys to attend high school. Sending girls to high school flies in the face of tradition as the girls are kept at home after the ninth grade (highest grade in the village schools) and then are married at around age 18. This tradition ignores that the world changing under the mountaineers. AAI is no supporting 10 girls in high school.
4. English Teachers.
AAI hired the first English teacher in Boga in 2001, and now provides English classes in three villages. These programs have been so successful that in 2007 two students who came up through this program are in the U.S. attending university. Our current English teacher, Aleks Ulaj, has 60 students in multiple sections in Vrithe, Xhaj and Boge.
5. Pay for school repairs.
AAI pays for some modest school repairs each year. Some of these projects include new blackboards; fixing the electrical system in Vrithi; and repairs to windows, porches, gates and toilets.
©2003 Albanian Alps Institute