Dr. Liri Berisha was born on July 5, 1948 in Tirana, the city where she completed the high school and was graduated with high results in the Faculty of Medicine at University of Tirana. The same year she marries to Sali Berisha, one of the distinguished doctors of that time with whom she has 2 children and six grandchildren.
By working as a pediatrician, Mrs. Berisha has been under the public appraises as a devoted doctor and dedicated to help families in need. The fall of communist dictatorship and the victory of democracy mark a key stage in her life as her husband Dr. Sali Berisha lead the student movement to overthrow communism and establishing the first opposition party, the Democratic Party. In 1992 Mr. Berisha is elected President of the Republic by the first pluralist parliament, and it is at this time when the noble doctor begins her public engagements as the first “First Lady” in the history of the Democratic Albania during 1992-1997. During this time Dr. Liri Berisha is intensively engaged to increase the positive image of democratic Albania in the world and her social dimension strengthened even more in supporting and commitment to people in need.
During these years, Mrs. Berisha is very committed to help sick children. She was elected President of the Albanian Children Foundation “Domenick Scaglione”, a foundation that has as its focus children who suffer from blood diseases, tumors, autism, children with special needs, orphans, marginalized children, elderly etc.
Under her leadership the Albanian Children Foundation “Domenick Scaglione”, successfully cooperates with counterpart international medical centers and foundations mainly treating Thalassemia, autism or other diseases. One of the priorities of her commitments has been the reduction of infant mortality, which recorded satisfactory results.
Efforts on Thalassemia
A deep and courageous commitment of pediatrician Berisha is related to Thalassemia disease. In 2007 the Foundation inaugurates the Regional Center of Hemoglobinopathy in Lushnja. Thanks to the lobbying of the Albanian Children Foundation was made possible including in the reimbursement list a very important medicine for children with thalassemia such as Deferasirox 250 mg (Exjade). She has organized public awareness campaigns for voluntary blood donation. An important moment of the Foundation is also its membership in the Thalassaemia International Federation, TIF. She has organized several scientific symposium on Pediatric diseases such as Hematology, Oncology etc.. Under the auspices of Mrs. Elsie Christofia, the First Lady of Cyprus, Ms. Berisha is also one of the founders of the “Circle of dignitaries” for global awareness on hemoglobin disorders.
Efforts on Autism
The main challenge and priority of Mrs. Berisha is and remains Autism. She is the founder of the National Strategy with concrete initiatives for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. This outstanding work marks as its achievement the establishment of two Regional Centers for Autism, the largest in the region that treat autistic children aged 2-16 year old and supports families of children in this difficult challenge. These two centers serve as vital institutions for scientific research in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder in Albania and in the region.
As important steps towards this are:
2009 – Albanian Children Foundation signed a partnership with Autism Speaks for Global Autism Public Health initiative: “GAPH-Albania”.
2010 – Albanian Children Foundation launches the South-East European Autism Network (SEAN) to identify some of the common challenges each country is facing and form a partnership to develop solutions that will meet the needs of families and individuals of this community also serving as the secretariat of the network.
2015 – The Albanian Children Foundation becomes a full member to “Autism Europe”.
During her several years of work with ambition results on protecting the rights of children and women and the promoting of humanism, Mrs. Berisha was awarded with several awards, diplomas and titles from powerful European and USA medical organizations, institutions, personalities and lobbies.
2007 –”Symbol of human values” award by the National Institute of Integration of the Albanian Orphans.
2008- The Gratitude award by FAO in Italy for her commitment in anti-poverty awareness campaigns.
2009- “Woman of the Year” award by the prestigious organization WIN in Washington DC upon the citation “For her commitment to make the world a better place for women and all citizens.”
2009- Diploma of Honor award on medicine without borders and helping children by the International Association of Oncologists and Gastroenterologists in Bucharest becoming also a board member.
2010-“Peace Prize 2011” awarded by the President of Lombardy Region, Mr.Roberto Formigoni.
2012- Albanian Children Foundation “Domenick Scaglione” was awarded with “Order of Mother Teresa” by the President of the Republic, upon the citation: “For the valuable assistance to children in need, giving priority to newborns and abandoned children, children with disabilities and institutions that provide food, shelter and education for these children. For the unsparing encouragement and support in researches and development of treatments and cures for children with Thalassemia, for supporting and treatment of children suffering from congenital disorders or other pathologies that threaten their lives, as well as autistic children and those with psycho-neurological disorders.”
2012-“For her continues support and her contribution to the shaping of women in Society” awarded by the Federation of Balkan American Associations (FEBA).
2014- Gratitude award on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Kuwait Center for Autism.
2014- Second Annual Bob and Suzanne Wright Global Autism Achievement Award for her serious and highly professional commitment of Mrs. Berisha on autism as appraise of her prominence in the international community of efforts on Autism in Albania and the region.
For her tireless contribution to the causes on protecting the health of mothers and children, Mrs. Berisha has been awarded titles of “Honorary Citizen” by municipality councils in different towns of Albania and the countries in the region.
Mrs. Berisha is Honorary President of the UNICEF office in Albania involved as promoter of causes such as children’s rights on education, recreation and health care. She is appointed Local Ambassador to Albania and Kosovo, for global initiative of UNICEF, on the Elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus in the Central African Republic.
Mother Teresa Cultural Foundation
In 2008, she establishes the “Mother Teresa” Cultural Foundation, promoting through activities and exhibitions in many capitals of the world, Mother Teresa, this woman with universal values, by Albanian origin where humanism and her universal values stands above national, religious and social affiliations worldwide.
On 28 April 2010 in the premises of Capitol Hill raised the flag in honor of the visit of Mrs. Liri Berisha and the opening of the exhibition dedicated to the humanitarian work of Mother Teresa.
As a sign of honor to Washington DC, Mrs. Berisha planted a tree at one of the most beautiful parks of the city, “Tree of Mother Teresa” on the occasion of Mother Teresa exhibition”.
As per Mrs. Berisha, a society cannot develop without a wife and healthy mother and equal human rights in family and profession. Mrs. Berisha loving and awesome commitment to family is a model for many Albanian women. Besides health care and campaigns for children’s rights, she has contributed to women’s rights and strengthening its socio-cultural status in society.
Ms. Berisha is very committed to charity campaigns supporting marginalized groups, orphans and the elderly from health issues through treatments and surgery covered by the foundation to organizing annual activities as well as supporting the quality of life improvement. Also Dr. Liri Berisha has paid a special attention to orphans by provided scholarships to them.