"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. In 2022, persistent inflation exacerbated by war in Ukraine has eroded many Albanians' ability to meet their most basic needs. The costs of basic foodstuffs has gone up by up to 50% this year already. Families already living in poverty are increasingly anxious and desperate.
Amaro Tan provides education for 130 Roma, ethnic Egyptian, and low-income Albanian children from preschool through ninth grade 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. In a time of uncertainty, the school provides safety and stability these children urgently need.
The project budget will include $1650 from the Rotary Club of Estes Park, and $3,300 in Rotary District Matching Grant Funds, to run a camp for 60 Amaro Tan students during summer vacation in August 2022. Time out of school for Amaro Tan students is time that they are at increased risk of being forced into begging and trash collecting on the streets of Pogradec-or of being trafficked. 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. At a time when poor families are struggling to put food on the table, this respite meets immediate needs and provides an incentive to keep children in school when school starts up again in September.
Rotary Club funding will be used to pay for breakfasts and lunches for up to 60 students for 20 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 Korca, a nearby city with cultural attractions many poor children never get to visit. We are additionally requesting pay for teachers running the camp be supported through grant funding, with Nehemiah Gateway paying the rest. A member of the Rotary Club of Estes Park 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.