April 18, 2023

Schoolblazer and local charity support communities in Albania

For a number of years Schoolblazer has been working closely with AlbaniAid, a small, Midlands based charity near to our warehouse. Communist rule in Albania ended in 1991 and the country is now one of the poorest in Europe, having spent several decades in isolation with a lack of development and investment.

AlbaniAid collect Schoolblazer’s obsolete stock and deliver it to isolated villages, schools, convents and nurseries in Albania. Village communities in Albania are generally very poor and jobs are scarce. Famously, more Albanians now live outside of the country than in it due to the lack of employment opportunities in Albania itself.

At Easter 2023 Robin Horsell, Co-Founder and Clare Burrows, Commercial Director joined a team of volunteers from AlbaniAid to help distribute obsolete stock along with medical supplies and food. This obsolete stock is generally a result of a school discontinuing an item, or making a change to their branding. All the items are still brand new so it makes sense to find good homes where they’ll be really well used and appreciated.

Robin and Clare were keen to see exactly where this stock was going and to help with its distribution. Most of the homes they visited were without electricity, running water, heating or an indoor bathroom. Although warm in the summer months, temperatures can drop very low in the winter months. Over 70% of Albania is mountainous, and whilst incredibly beautiful, houses in these areas are particularly isolated and in need of help, with little or no assistance from their government. In addition to this, recent earthquakes mean that many people are living in unsafe houses that are partially collapsed with no funds to have them repaired.

Albanians are incredibly friendly and welcoming; at every home they went to Robin and Clare were offered the customary welcome drink of Raki, which at around 50% alcohol, should carry a health warning, alongside an equally strong cup of coffee. They quickly learnt not to accept this at every house!

The volunteer team made up ‘bundles’ in sports bags and school rucksacks to make distribution easier. Each bag contained several polos, socks, tracksuit bottoms, knitwear, shoes and coats as well as toiletries and some useful medical supplies. In the bags for children, we included soft toys which were very popular!

David Stephenson of AlbaniAid says, “We are hugely grateful for Schoolblazer’s assistance and on behalf of all the children and families who have benefited from your generosity we want to say thank you. Whole classes and even schools have benefited from Schoolblazer’s donations.”

A group of AlbaniAid volunteers stand in front of a house



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