Stories of Success

Streha’s work during the Covid-19 pandemic

We adapted our services to the needs of our beneficiaries from the beginning of the pandemic, providing distance and online support. Our work continued unabated, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

During the pandemic year, 2020, Streha provided food packages, rent mediation, and medication to its beneficiaries and youth at risk of homelessness in Albania. Streha provided 246 food packages to 60 beneficiaries in 2020, 128 rent assistance funds to 37 beneficiaries, and fully covered the financial costs of 143 medical prescriptions.

Berti’s story

Berti entered in Streha in a period of psychological crisis that led him to some serious suicide attempts. After he entered in Streha, he was diagnosed by the psychiatrist with major depression. He suffered a lot because of the past traumas and because of the difficulties in asserting his sexual orientation. The staff of Streha was deeply and carefully involved due to the high risk situation, because of his self-harming behavior and his previous suicide attempts. He received intensive psychological treatment in combination with a prescription of anti-depressants given by the psychiatrist. On the other side, he was a gifted and talented university student, with a specific passion for politics and social activism. All these strengths were valued assets and were used by the professionals of Streha, in order to help him deal with all his psychological distress. He was supported by Streha to continue his studies and his civil activism. He stayed in Streha for 6 months and then was supported in distance for other 6 months. Berti now is in a stable job. He has finished his studies and is deeply involved in social activism by taking part in many initiatives of the civil society. After more than a year of therapy offered by the psychologist of Streha, he found emotional stability and he feels much better now, despite the continuous challenges. 

Enkelejda’s story

Enkelejda was 21 years old when she entered in Streha. She identified herself as bisexual and was in a long and stable relationship with a girl. When her family found out about her sexual orientation, they reacted very aggressively by locking her in the house. She was helped by her girlfriend to reach the services of Streha and considering her emergency situation, she was accepted immediately in the service. In the beginning of her staying in Streha, she was suffering from some anxiety issues. After she found emotional stability, she started looking for a job. She found very quickly a suitable job and was very involved in her new job. She was helped to mediate with her family and started to communicate with her mother and also asked her to accept her sexual orientation. She was helped with the anxiety issues and also Streha Center helped her to receive some medical assistance for some chronic health problems that she had. She stayed in Streha for other 3 months after she was employed. Because of her very good performance at her profession, she succeeded to find a much better paid job. She lives now independently. She is succeeding in her new job and also the relationship with her family has been improved. 

Moza’s history

Moza was 23 when she applied to enter in Shelter. She identified herself as bisexual. She was finding some difficulties with housing and also was facing some psychological difficulties. She was helped by Streha Center to get the staying permit in Albania, since she was not from Albania. She continued the counseling sessions regularly by addressing some issues of the past and some challenges of the present. Moza was a very good student and very passionate about her profession. She was supported by Streha for six months. She is living now independently and time after time contacts the Streha’s staff. She is continuing the university with excellent results and she is now following her dream of becoming an artist.

Tirana Pride 2023
Showing Freedom: Andy’s Triumph at Tirana Pride

Living as a gay individual in Albania presents numerous challenges. Every day, the burden of societal stigma serves as a constant reminder of the need to lead a double life. This struggle is deeply rooted for many of those we assist, starting from a young age. Through Streha’s efforts and our continuous engagement with their experiences, we’d like to spotlight a success story from 2023. – Streha Staff.

Meet Andy, a 23-year-old gay man in Albania who first met Streha four years ago. Driven by a desire for a more authentic life, he made the courageous move to Tirana, seeking refuge in Streha and embarking on a path towards independence. Raised in a deeply patriarchal environment, Andy learned early on to mask his true feelings, constantly feeling the pressure to comply. Transitioning to city life wasn’t without its challenges; the fear of exposure appeared bigger, compounded by familial expectations and health concerns.

The journey was daunting, but with Streha’s support, I found the strength to embrace who I truly am,” Andy reflects. “I no longer wanted to live in fear or hide behind a facade. Streha gave me the tools and the courage to stand tall and proud.”

The pivotal moment came during Tirana’s Pride parade in 2023. Andy, shedding the masks of conformity, stood boldly with the rainbow flag, a symbol of defiance against stigma and discrimination. His presence spoke volumes, not just for himself but for every LGBTQ+ individual who was wearing a mask to escape social pressures. In Pride 2023, Andy emerged as a voice for the masked, a representative for those navigating similar struggles he once faced. His journey stands as the transformative power of support, illustrating the solid impact of our collective efforts in uplifting and empowering the LGBTQ+ community in Albania.

“It was a moment of liberation,” Andy recalls, his eyes shining with pride. “For the first time, I felt truly free, unapologetically myself.”

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