In Turin, 7 June 2010 Monday at the 18.00 hours, in via della Consolata 9 / G at the Cultural Association Machè - ARCI, there will be the inauguration of the photo exhibition "Faces of Guri i Zi".Interested visitors, on this occasion, will also be able to purchase the works and thus contribute to supporting the project of women's micro-enterprises in the textile field that Idee Migranti promotes in Albania: the funds raised, in fact, will be totally allocated to the development of the textile laboratory in Guri i Zi, village of 12.000 inhabitants near Scutari.
At the exhibition, opened by 7 at the 16 June, Claudia Fornengo will present their works with "City ghosts", Silvia Salchi with "Subsuit" and Chiara Castiglioni with "Volti di Guri I Zi". The works of the women of Guri I Zi, who work traditional crafts and furnishing products using tezgjah, have already been around several Italian cities.
This project of female micro-entrepreneurship employs thirty women from the town of Guri i Zi, a northern area of Albania, supporting their emancipation and enhancing the ancient traditions of that area.
This is an interesting and countercurrent phenomenon in Albania, which tends to look to the future now, thus forgetting important knowledge of its past. ATorino and Piedmont, an initiative of this kind finds very attentive interlocutors. It is the same wave length as other major initiatives to protect the popular tradition, to food, to craft production such as Slow Food, Terra Madre and the Popular Orality Festival, which sees Piemonte as a laboratory of movements that become global benchmarks.
The strength of the project lies precisely in this: to demonstrate that safeguarding traditions can also become a significant source of income. In the specific case, the women of an entire country have found employment, socialization and training by launching special products in the rest of Albania and also in Italy, thanks to the support of Idantes Migranti, and at the same time enhancing what passed orally by generation to generation until today.
Today's Albania, a country in strong growth, however, has areas of shadow strongly affected by unemployment, especially women. In fact, women are among the most disadvantaged groups and fall into the category of structural poor; moreover, the economic and social status of women within society has not changed significantly over the last two decades, despite the efforts made by civil organizations to produce improvements.
The area in which the women of Guri i Zi operate, in particular, is by far one of the most affected by this plague. If at the national level the female participation in the labor market is approximately 39.1 per cent and that of the men of 62.6 per cent (similar difference for all age groups), in the area we are considering the report presents instead a much greater gap marked: only 10 per cent for women, and the remaining 90 per cent for men.
It is easy to understand, therefore, the importance that the location of this laboratory has, also representing a fine example for the other Albanian rural areas.
This project is also the first of Migrant Ideas, an association that operates in Albania with the support of two missionary priests, Don Raffaele Gagliardi and Don Juan Francisco Garcia Martinez, and with the involvement of the Albanian partner association Monsignor Loro Nodaj.
Thanks to this experience, it was also possible to carry out other projects in other parts of the world, Uganda, Ukraine and Madagascar. To learn more about this tireless group of experts in international cooperation, we met the vice president, Chiara Castiglioni.
Where did the idea of working with Scutari women start?
From a personal point of view, it was my curiosity about the history of Albania that pushed me to Scutari for the first time in the 2005. In fact, it is a broader interest for Eastern European countries in general, which already brought me to the former Yugoslavia for another volunteer experience in the Bosnian refugee camp of Postojna. I wanted to have a non-tourist experience , but of closer knowledge of the country and of the people, and I found a chance to carry out a work camp in Scutari at the community of the missionary priest Don Raffaele Gagliardi, which included a series of volunteer activities at the home for the mentally ill Mother Teresa of Scutari and animation with the children of Guri I Zi.
On this occasion I had the opportunity to meet many people and let me host them at their homes; during the visits I saw that many of the women met had frames in their homes, with which they knew how to make beautiful textile products (aprons, tovagline etc.), mostly used for domestic use.
Together with Elena Galateri (President of Idee Migranti Onlus), whom I met during the work camp of Guri I Zi, and some Albanian women, we started to think that the art of fabric processing (part of the ancient Albanian tradition ) could become a source of ongoing livelihood on-site, given the lack of job opportunities. So together with a first group of interested women we started talking about it and informally giving life to a micro-project, without having yet founded the Idee Migranti association, which was then born later following the growth of the project itself, bringing to involve a greater number of people both in Italy and in Albania (for more information see the "history and origins of the association" on our website:).
The Guri I Zi project was born from a meeting of Albanian and Italian women and the desire to work together to give life to an all-female experience of micro-entrepreneurship ... The original group was composed of 4 women, currently the project involves 40 ( young and old), most of which are the only source of income.
The Guri I Zi textile laboratory, besides offering a job and training opportunity, is also a place for socializing and meeting.
What are the products that are made in the textile laboratory?
The textile products are of various types and have diversified over time: tablecloths, bedspreads, towels, aprons, pillow covers, bags ... To view some of the products you can consult the site: www.guriizi.com
Each handmade product is made entirely on the loom and embroidered by hand, respecting the ancient Albanian textile tradition, which represents an important element and value of the historical and cultural heritage of Albania. Albanian fabrics are characterized by the variety of embroideries and the chromatic vivacity, with a predominance of warm colors (red and yellow) but also green, blue and black. Each zone is recognized by a color (Scutari preferred red for example) and og
the color expressed a particular emotion (joy, pain, sadness, bitterness) and was used on specific occasions ...
Where are they sold, and at what price? Can they be ordered and found on the market?
It is possible to support the project by purchasing Guri I Zi products in our stores located in the two locations of Idee Migranti in Milan (Via Barozzi 7) and Turin (Piazza Vittorio Veneto n. 5) on time 9-13 or in the afternoon by appointment . For any information you can contact us directly at the addresses indicated on our website www.ideemigranti.org ewww.guriizi.com Product prices vary depending on the type: from a few euros for smaller pieces (placemats, pillow covers ..) up to 150 euro for a double bed cover in linen and cotton entirely woven and embroidered by hand ...
What is the basic salary in Albania, and how much of the women in the laboratory?
The average monthly contract in the area of Scutari (where Guri I Zi is) is from 120-150 euro…. at the current state of the project, women receive compensation for the individual pieces produced. One of the positive aspects of the project is that each woman can participate according to her time availability; therefore some women weave only a few days a week while others are more active in the workmanship so today it is still premature to talk about an average monthly salary.
Is it a sustainable project, as well as a sustainable one?
To date, the sustainability of the project is guaranteed for around one 70% thanks to product sales and an 30% thanks to the support of many donors who are passionate about the project. When the project was born in the 2006 the percentage was reversed and we are already very happy with the results achieved in these years, certain that our goal for the coming years remains to make the project entirely sustainable.
This is why we invite everyone to come and visit us in our stores and buy the products: it is the best way to grow the project and ensure its sustainability over time ... As for eco-sustainability, Guri I Zi fabrics rely on the purchase of yarns only to those companies that demonstrate a particular commitment to respecting the environment, therefore the eco-sustainability of the project is guaranteed at 100%.
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
Currently Idee Migranti Onlus promotes projects that favor the development and self-sufficiency of local communities as well as in Albania, also in Uganda and Madagascar, through initiatives focused on micro-enterprise and education support (for more information about projects and activities please visit our website www.ideemigranti.org). In Italy, moreover, it carries out research and training activities on interculture starting from the projects implemented.
In this regard, in this last year, we have worked hard to strengthen the intercultural sector of our association, aware of the importance of education in today's society increasingly crossed by xenophobia and racism.During the 2009 / 2010 Idee Migranti has carried out a series of intercultural courses in schools with Cesedi (Educational Services Center of the Province of Turin) on Albania (link to the program) and on Uganda (link) which involved 13 schools (secondary schools of the second degree) of the province of Turin and some representatives of Albanian associations who brought their testimony inside the laboratories.
This work made it possible to broaden the territorial social network, also involving some teachers, with whom our association intends to continue working in the coming years, to build new training paths through a participatory planning methodology.
We would also like to extend our involvement to more and more people from the Albanian community because we believe in the effectiveness of bringing concrete life stories to schools that are incisive in breaking with the stereotypes and clichés about immigration; I believe that one of the strong points of the educational paths of this first year has been precisely this. Speaking of new projects in the pipeline, therefore - always resources permitting - there is a new intercultural path that foresees a school exchange between Italy and Albania and also a project of responsible tourism in the North of Albania with the possibility of knowledge fields of the project "Guri I Zi" and of voluntary service, aimed at individual interested citizens and schools.
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