IRSH: Young People Change Albania

IRSH stands for “Young Intellectuals, Hope” – and the name is the program. The members of IRSH are young people, mainly college students, that have hope, to change something of the Albanian Society and especially to make changes to the city of Shkoder.

The schwelle Foundation has accompanied and promoted the Albanian organization IRSH since 1998. In 1999, when through the Serbia/Kosovo war, many Albanian Refugees from Kosovo fled into the North Albanian City Shkoder, the schwelle bought a house to take in three refugee families. After several months the refugees were able to return home. Since then the house is used as the office and event house of IRSH.

IRSH distinguishes itself, by the fact that active college students foster young people on a voluntary basis. Engaged and filled with pep IRSH does its part for the community. They offer trainings, seminars, sports activities, application training and homework help. They assist other initiatives with fundraising and try to inform and strengthen school students, college students and teenagers. 

Strengthening Young People

IRSH strengthen young people and actively works to prepare them to be able to participate in government processes. There are five main work areas: human rights, media, sport, environment, social and economy, art and culture. In cooperation with different partner and public and private institutions IRSH organizes these work areas into different activities and initiatives. 

For example IRSH has organized citizen forums, to initiate dialogues between young people. The topics of these forums were: social topics, citizen participation, promoting democracy and good governance. Further IRSH has organized workshops in which topics such as media, environment, sport and culture were worked on. The participants learned among other things, how to design a media campaign and write a press release. Furthermore, trainings to strengthen adolescent groups and adolescent NGOs, in the search for financing and implementing projects were offered. 

Additionally there were workshops to topics such as “Be active, be European,” “how one identifies problems in a community and addresses them” and “how to protect nature and biodiversity.”

The adolescent work that IRSH provides is supposed to teach the young generation to promote the positive social change and participate in shaping it. IRSH is a messenger for a different Albania than portrayed in the news. For this they organize international conferences for young adults to make the country Albania more visible to Europe. 

Active Network in Northern Albania

IRSH works in Shkoder, all the way in North Albania. A very pretty and lively city with just over 100,000 citizens, a lot of life in the streets and many street cafés directly at the lake Shkoder – the biggest lake in the Balkans. Next to the lake many rives coin the area around Shkoder. Because of this there is regular flooding that constantly destroys the existence of many people. IRSH is well networked in the city and can easily and quickly organize volunteers and be active where help is needed.