"Amaro Tan" means "our place" in Romani, the language of Albania's ethnic Roma minority. The Amaro Tan School, located in an economically challenged part of Pogradec, Albania, provides a safe place for low income Roma, Albanian Egyptian, and Albanian children to learn and grow. Roma and Egyptian minority groups, which make up about 3% of the total population, disproportionately live in extreme poverty. Although in Albania overall enrollment in primary school is about 94%, among Albanian Roma and Egyptian children only 48% attend some school, and 25% complete primary school (UNICEF Education in Albania Country Profile, 2013). Lack of education in turn contributes to a 25% employment rate among these groups, with most work in the informal sector. Nehemiah Gateway began addressing this problem in 1999 by opening the Amaro Tan School, with its first class of 24 Roma and Egyptian street children.
Today, the Amaro Tan School has grown to provide K-9 education for about 150 Roma, ethnic Egyptian, and low-income Albanian children every year. It provides hot meals for the children, health and dental services, social worker services and parent engagement, vocational education for a variety of ages, and opportunities for play. The curriculum is the same as that taught in Albanian schools. Access to education and an array of social services makes the difference between endemic poverty and secure, sustainable communities. By offering these children at the margins of society the same access to education as their Albanian peers, the Amaro Tan School works to break the cycle of poverty in the Albanian Egyptian and Roma communities.
We are requesting $1,400 from the Rotary District Fund, to be matched by $700 from Estes Park Noon Rotary, to help run a camp for 50-55 Amaro Tan students during summer vacation in August 2019. For many of Amaro Tan's students, time out of school is time that they are at increased risk of being forced into begging and trash collecting on the streets of Pogradec. Summer camp allows these children to be children, enjoying age-appropriate activities and field trips in a wholesome atmosphere. Along with activities, students receive breakfast and lunch and transportation to and from camp.
Rotary Club funding will be used to pay for breakfasts and lunches for up to fifty-five students for twenty days, to be prepared and provided by the Nehemia Cafeteria at the Nehemiah Gateway campus in Pogradec, as well as bus service between campus and home, materials for activities, and a field trip to Drilon National Park, a local attraction many poor children never get to visit. A member of the Estes Park Noon Rotary will coordinate with Amaro Tan to assist with operational planning and program implementation for next summer, and will help Amaro Tan staff to provide reports back to the club.