Two family homes of the Community of Sant'Egidio for psychiatric and mental patients discharged from the psychiatric hospital (now closed) were inaugurated in Tirana in the presence of the ministers of welfare and health of the Albanian Government and President of the Community of Sant'Egidio Marco Impagliazzo. The two structures are home to sixteen people in all, assisted by a medical and nursing staff that, thanks to the commitment and friendship of members of the Community of Sant'Egidio, are experiencing with success "a new, more worthy, more humane and effective way to ensure mental health" as Marco Impagliazzo said in his speech at the ceremony.
The Community of Sant'Egidio has been present in Albania for 23 years now: a presence already established next to the poor, the children and the elderly, with interventions of an educational and health character and of solidarity. Impagliazzo also stressed that Albania will be the destination, on next 21 September, of the first visit of Pope Francis to a European country.
"Everything can change" said the president of Sant'Egidio tracing the long history that led to the closure of the hospital and then the reception of patients in the two houses "thought from a perspective of integration and inclusion in the life of the neighborhood, in a perspective of liberation". Other former inpatients in the psychiatric ward returned to their families of origin. In short, "an extraordinary story of friendship and loyalty" that began in 1991, when some members of the Community of Sant'Egidio visiting the psychiatric hospital were affected by the situation of severe discomfort of the chronic department and decided to commit to the recovery of patients, for whom today what Impagliazzo called "a dream of liberation" has come true.
And "Everything can change" a phrase of St. John Paul II, was also the theme of a conference on "New pathways for mental health in Albania" that preceded the inauguration today. In the headquarters of the Ministry of Health there were interventions by government representatives, the Italian ambassador in Tirana Gaiani and mons. Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who was the first Catholic priest to meet the Albanian Communist leaders in the early nineties, and that recalled the first steps of a longstanding relationship.