Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships

Scholar Advocates on Behalf of Kosovo's Mothers and Children

Early last month, the Action for Mothers and Children (AMC) foundation raised nearly 24,000 euros at the “Let’s Dance for Mothers and Children” event.

The funds were raised through ticket sales and company sponsorships, and the event boasted 300 attendees.

“It all turned out to be better than we planned,” said Executive Director Mrika Aliu. “So I guess it…means that people are welcoming this mission, this Foundation.”

Image The "Let's Dance for Mothers and Children" Event, held December 3, 2015, in Prishtina, benefitted the Foundation with nearly 24,000 euros. Image courtesy Action for Mothers and Children.

Action for Mothers and Children was founded in 2009 as The Foundation for Healthy Mothers and Babies andhas expanded its reach to include education programs and policy advocacy, and welcomed new team members like Aliu.

Aliu, who joined the foundation in 2013 as a program manager, was promoted to Executive Director in July 2014.

Under her leadership, the foundation has taken on an increasing number of public health issues and fundraising projects like “Let’s Dance”.

She says the foundation will use the money raised last month to support five programs in 2016. These efforts include providing important medicines and phototherapy lamps to neonatal care units, establishing a neonatal transport system throughout Kosovo, supporting their Womens Health Resource Centers, and advocating for coverage of pregnant women and their children in basic insurance packages.

Image Aliu joined the Foundation in 2013 as a program manager and was promoted to Executive Director in July 2014. Image by Beni Cufi for Revista Flatra.

Like the foundation she supports, Aliu’s passion for public health began in 2009 while she studied at the American University in Kosovo (AUK). She noticed that a cafe in a neighborhood with adult employees with down syndrome was often empty, so she gathered friends to visit the cafe, interact with the adults, and organize a Down Syndrome awareness campaign.

After identifying other needs in her community — with autism, orphans, and providing English courses for poor children, for example — Aliu established the Charity Club, AUK’s first philanthropy-focused student group. The original ten volunteers quickly grew into a positive force of over 100, and the Club continues to be active today.

“I believe that we are born with a mission and especially with a responsibility to contribute to the communities we live in,” said Aliu.“The Charity Club was basically a way to give back to the community, to see what I can contribute with my own skills, knowledge and resources”.

Aliu’s activism eventually developed into an interest in public health, and her commitment to community improvement has since earned her the opportunity to study in the United States.

As a TLP-SP Master’s scholar, Aliu splits her time between Action for Mothers and Childrenin Kosovo and Dartmouth College in the American state of New Hampshire while pursuing a degree in Public Health.

She expects to graduate in 2018, and plans to return to the foundation full-time. “I dream about it becoming a really big foundation, improving the maternal and childhood health and being the kind of liason between communities, hospitals, and the Ministry of Health”, she said.

She then plans to pursue work in public health policy or research, and emphasizes how the support of TLP-SP, Dartmouth, and her home community have aided these dreams.

“They have this kind of mentorship relationship very much developed…I had the feeling that they want you to succeed and there is no way you will fail,” she said.

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