One to One Children’s Fund has worked with traumatised and vulnerable children in Kosovo for more than 17 years, investing over £2.5 million during that time, directly benefitting 8,740 children and parents and indirectly benefitting more than 50,000 family and community members. Our efforts to achieve sustainability have recently borne fruit in two important ways:
- the publication of a manual to document the rich experience and lessons learned
- the handover of 4 day care centres, thanks to partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
Our involvement started in 1999 when we visited the refugee camps in northern Albania, initially setting up a crisis centre there and then moving to Kosovo in the following year to set up 2 counselling centres (in Prizren and Peja) to deliver services over the next 10 years.
Our project investment exceeded £1 million over the first 10-year period. Over that time, we also set up an accredited psychosocial training course for our staff as well as government social workers.
The training of these 40 psychosocial counsellors as a new professional cohort in Kosovo was part of our strategy to leave behind a sustainable infrastructure. Although the government was unable at that stage to absorb the One to One counselling service, our Trustees gave the go-ahead to keep the service going whilst we developed a new project to address another critical gap: the care of disabled and vulnerable children. We successfully redeployed our counsellors and converted the Prizren and Peja counselling centres to day care centres in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and with 2-year funding from the EU.
At the end of this period, we secured a further EU grant, in partnership with PEMA, to extend the day care centre model to 4 centres for a further two years ending in early 2015. Since that time, and with the help of Medicor, Brian Murtagh and others, we have been funding and building the capacity of PEMA, culminating in the handover of the project at the beginning of 2017. A manual – Improving the lives of children with disabilities in Kosovo: Guide to establishing a day care centre and outreach service – has also been produced to document the rich experience and lessons learned. The manual is available here.
To ensure that the project graduates to full sustainability, we have continued to provide advice and support to the PEMA management, alongside matched funds to help secure the commitment and partnership of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare as well as the local municipalities. By the end of 2017, our project expenditure will exceed £1.5 million over the 7 years of our involvement with the day care centres for disabled and vulnerable children.
So in total, over 17 years we will have invested more than £2.5 million to transform the lives of thousands of almost 60,000 children, families and communities in post-conflict Kosovo, structuring and leveraging our support so that its impact will be sustained for years to come.