27 February 2024

Diary from Albania #1

In the Diary from Albania series, Frits Rouvoet, director of Bright Fame, takes you on his trip to Albania. In this first part you will read more about the necessity of the trip and the preparations.

A few days after the revolution in February 1991 in Albania, I went there and was eventually able to work there from the Netherlands for almost 10 years through Hope for Albania to help the population get on their feet. The poverty and hopelessness touched me deeply. To this day I still have a soft spot for the Albanian people. What I saw happen in those years but also afterwards is that many Albanians went to work legally or illegally somewhere in Europe. There had to be an income for their families.

What I was not aware of then was that between 1993 and 2001 there were around an estimated 100,000 victims of human trafficking. Often kidnapped and resold from Albania. After the revolution there was a lot of poverty, because of this the victims in human trafficking grew.

Since 2005 I have been active with Bright Fame in the redlight of Amsterdam and was regularly visiting other places in the Netherlands but also in Belgium and Germany. Especially abroad I came across many Albanian girls in terrible circumstances. Often without permanent residence, no health insurance, poorly educated and working on the streets. One cold and windy evening in Brussels, we spoke with two young girls. Even with good winter coats we were cold, but these girls walked there airily presenting themselves hoping to pick up a customer. Whether they worked independently we doubted. What a sad and hopeless situation. In 2014 there is already talk of half a million slave women.

Sometime in 2022 I got the desire to travel again to Albania and see what was happening there in terms of prevention and help in returning from prostitution. In the fall of 2022, there was a reunion of Hope for Albania, and I was confirmed in my image that there was absolutely no attention to these issues in Albania.

An exploratory trip to Albania is now planned in March. Various appointments with organizations and politicians. With all the information, I want to see if there can be a meeting with a group of people in the fall or what we can set up together in terms of prevention but also important the right help when returning to the homeland.

To make this trip possible and continue to help the girls in the Amsterdam Red Light District, we depend on donations.

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