An American woman supporting Albanian women through chickens…

An American woman supporting Albanian women through chickens…


Nancy Nelson is a retired teacher from Madison, Wisconsin. She taught at Edgewood College, a small private liberal arts college in Madison, WI, for 27 years, with a focus on Education and Psychology. Nancy enjoys working with students of all ages and is currently empowering rural Albanian women through her support of Arlis Alikaj, who runs a grassroots NGO in Librazhd. Nancy and Arlis first met in Washington D.C. in October 2022 when Arlis graduated from the Community Solutions Program, a State Department initiative for young civil leaders, and where Nancy served as a CSP host.

Nancy and Arlis in Washington D.C. at the 2022 Global Impact Summit.

During her teaching career, she co-created a mentoring program for middle school students while teaching Adolescent Psychology. This experience sparked her interest in working with middle school girls, leading her to launch the program Girls’ Stories, Girls’ Voices in 1999. Nancy’s work in Albania has been highly successful and has positively impacted and transformed the lives of many women.

Photo of Nancy Nelson


Librazhd is a small town in central Albania. Most middle-aged women do not work outside their households due to poor economic conditions and conservative social expectations. However, they possess valuable skills; some were teachers, nurses, or shopkeepers, while others excel in knitting or cooking. Many of them eagerly seek opportunities to utilize these skills to improve their situations.

Nancy Nelson’s generous donations raised funds for two chicken projects, one in Librazhd and another in Prrenjas. It’s remarkable to note that 40 women directly benefited from these initiatives, with over 1000 individuals benefiting indirectly. The women who have benefited come from various backgrounds, including different areas of town, local villages, single mothers, and from the Roma and Egyptian minority communities.

Arlis, along with ten women from the group, traveled to the northern Albanian city of Shkoder to source the initial chickens for breeding and receive training on raising chickens for egg and meat production.

Upon their return to Librazhd, the chickens were housed and raised on land owned by three of the women. These properties were already utilized for raising other animals and had the necessary facilities and resources in place for the chickens.

Eggs and surplus chickens were sold at the twice-weekly farmers’ market in Librazhd. Locally-produced eggs and meat sold at a premium price in Albania, compared to mass-produced products transported in from elsewhere.

Arlis had already identified a farm prepared to sell them the desired quantity of chickens and provided all necessary training at no additional cost. He also had an existing relationship with a hostel in Shkoder where he and the women could stay overnight at a reduced rate since completing the round-trip and training in just one day was not feasible.

In a heartwarming tribute to philanthropist Nancy Nelson, Arlis Alikaj, a visionary youth leader in Librazhd, Albania, credits her unwavering support as the driving force behind his transformative initiatives aimed at social change. Alikaj, known for his innovative projects empowering marginalized communities, spoke fondly of Nelson’s instrumental role in enabling him to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those in need. Through Nelson’s generous funding, Alikaj was able to implement initiatives that have brought hope and empowerment to countless individuals in rural Albania.

Nelson’s dedication to supporting initiatives that uplift communities and create opportunities for positive change has not gone unnoticed. Alikaj expressed his gratitude for her belief in his vision and the tangible difference her support has made in driving social change at a grassroots level. Reflecting on the power of collaboration and the impact of mentorship, Alikaj emphasized the importance of individuals like Nancy Nelson, whose generosity and commitment have the potential to spark lasting change and inspire others to contribute to the betterment of society.

As Nelson continues to be recognized for her philanthropic efforts and commitment to empowering communities worldwide, her partnership with visionaries like Arlis Alikaj serves as a testament to the ripple effect of kindness and generosity in driving meaningful social change. The bond between Nancy Nelson and Arlis Alikaj exemplifies the profound impact that can be achieved through partnership, mentorship, and a shared dedication to creating a more equitable and compassionate world.

Arlis’ organisation, QMSZ works with “forgotten” women and young people facing social challenges and unemployment, making efforts to reintegrate them into society and to establish healthy communities where residents live in harmony with nature. Arlis is an activist, albeit young, with extensive experience in civil society. Since the age of 14, he volunteered to write blogs and organize camps for young people with disabilities.

Some pictures during the chicken delivery and installation of coops.

“I have never met Nancy in my life; it’s wonderful to know that there are good people out there. She brought a smile to me and other women. We want to welcome her sometime soon in our country, Albania. I will cook the best traditional dishes for her because she gave hope to my family,” says Fatmira Rushani, a Roma woman from the village of Prrenjas who benefited from the chicken project.

In the picture: Fatmira Rushani holding chickens.