Association of Albanian Girls & Women
Improving Lives of Human Trafficking Victims
First-of-its-Kind Organization Solicits Help from the Albanian- American Community
For Release: August 11, 2003
Tirana, Albania/Palos Verdes, California--The Association of Albanian Girls and Women (AAGW), a non-profit humanitarian organization that empowers victims of human trafficking, is launching a national fundraising campaign to assist these girls and women in reintegrating into Albanian society. This worldwide problem has affected more than 6,000 Albanians and claims more victims every day.
“The stories that the victims share are beyond heartbreaking,” says AAGW founder, American Amy Sebes. “There are so many aspects of their lives that need to be fixed and there is so much urgency to the problem. We support job training and placement and handicraft production programs but I think even more importantly, the organization is run by and for the victims. Its operation gives the girls and women self-esteem, leadership experience and an important voice in Albanian society. These girls are the beneficiaries of AAGW, but they are also its members and leaders. They been robbed of their human dignity. AAGW seeks to help them restore it."
Starting from scratch a year ago at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Center for Reintegration of Victims of Human Trafficking in Tirana, AAGW needs the support of the Albanian-American community to help stop this crisis and raise awareness worldwide. More girls arrive at the shelter each day; their average age is 17 and some are as young as 14 years old. Human trafficking victims typically arrive at the IOM Reintegration Center after an unimaginable journey into forced child prostitution that often includes beatings, rape, and sometimes food deprivation. They seek only safety, and arrive with nothing but the clothes they are wearing and the scars of their experience. They undergo counseling and job training, including working on the AAGW handicrafts project.
Ways to Help:
1. Make a financial contribution by sending a check made out to AAGW to the address above. We have no overhead and no paid staff; all donations will be spent on necessities for the former victims.
2. Purchase handicraft items made by the former victims at our website at https://aagworg.local. Among the special items available for sale on the AAGW website are sweaters for children and babies, notecards, soaps, and Christmas items. Not only do buyers receive top quality handmade Albanian items, they also contribute greatly to the self-esteem of the victims.
3. Donate used clothing and/or sponsor a used clothing drive, for girls and women. (Children’s clothing is donated to a local orphanage). Donated clothing can be mailed domestically using Amy Sebes’ address above. While we are located entirely in Albania, Amy is with the US diplomatic community with a US-based address. All items will go directly to the girls.
4. Donate items used in handicrafts made by the victims (ribbons, yarn, etc.), or sponsor a sale of their handmade items. Contact AAGW fundraising director Alison McGann at [email protected] for more information about getting involved with the handmade work that boosts victims self esteem and provides income to the girls and the shelter.
The Association of Albanian Girls and Women was founded in 2002 by Amy Sebes at the IOM Reintegration Center in Tirana. A veteran teacher throughout the world and the mother of a young daughter, Ms. Sebes got involved with victims after developing an anti-trafficking curriculum that is now taught in schools throughout Albania. A primary aim of AAGW is to help victims of trafficking reintegrate into Albanian society. AAGW promotes this goal by supporting job training, job placement, and handicraft production programs. Equally important, since AAGW is an organization run by and for trafficked women, its daily operation also offers important leadership and managerial experience and provides a voice for this marginalized group in Albanian society. AAGW is a tool for personal empowerment. These young women are the experts on trafficking; they know best how to determine their own needs and propose solutions for lasting change. AAGW gives them this opportunity.