The history of the organization:

In 1997, Vlora, as a port city, was a focal point in Albania where human trafficking and contraband took place. During those years, a considerable number of girls were trafficked for sexual exploitation towards Italy and other European countries by national and international trafficking networks. In June 1997, a group of women activists led by Mrs. Vera Lesko, the founder of Vatra Center, considering the increasing number of recruited and trafficked girls by these organized networks, began working to prevent this phenomenon. Their work involved direct contact with victims of trafficking, direct meetings with community members, especially in rural areas, providing information about human trafficking, the forms of human trafficking, methods traffickers used to recruit victims, the consequences of trafficking, etc. Additionally, based on what was happening to Albanian women and girls, Mrs. Vera Lesko raised this issue to local, central, and international institutions. The government at that time did not acknowledge human trafficking as a phenomenon. International institutions such as OSCE, the British Embassy, the U.S Embassy, etc., deemed the information provided by ``Vatra`` as valid. In 1999, with the support of the American and British Embassies, ``Vatra`` Psycho-Social Center was established. Only in 2001 did the Albanian government begin to take initial measures against human trafficking and consider Vatra Center as one of the key partners in the fight against human trafficking. Since then, ``Vatra`` has actively participated in the development and implementation of legislation, programs, strategies, and national action plans to combat human trafficking and all forms of gender-based violence.