O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 1 June1999

Tirana 1 June 1999
Today was the day for the children in Albania, an old communist habit, put into a new jacket. All the schools were free and children were invited to visit refugees, so that contact is built up between Kosovars and Albanians. The Albanian Youth Council organised for 100 children (50 from Albania and 50 from Kosov@) to visit the President. When we went there, in the youth center (by the way the place is just a normal house, don't think it too big by the term center) the children were waiting. All dressed up in their nicest clothes, now you can see well who is refugee and who isn't, since refugees don't have much nicest clothes, they don't have much clothes at all. Still they all look pretty dressed up and full of fire, yesterday they made a whole list of things they want to tell the president.. That they want water, that they want to be able to play on the streets in the evening, that they want to go home, that they want good schools, that they don't want to live in tents, etc.

It was a full and interesting day today, basically trying to find out if I was able to make the problems of this country understandable to the volunteers who had arrived. Since a discussion this morning showed that the Kosovars and the domestic Albanians are not on the same level of what has happened at all. For the volunteers it was very enlightening how this morning our different translators from Kosov@ and Albania started a discussion about whether the UCK (the name of KLA in the local language) has triggered the war or not. The domestic people said if you from Kosov@ wouldn't have started the war against Milosovic the whole thing wouldn´t have happened in the first place. And the Kosovars reacted that they didn't start it at all but that the UCK arose from a situation where they had to defend themselves. And that a lot of people in Kosov@ weren't happy at all when the UCK started and that some still think that way. At that moment it became more and more clear that a lot of people in Albania don't really know what has happened in Yugoslavia. Not that they weren't interested in it, but they simply didn't have the possibility in the beginning, and when the possibility was there they didn't have the time to figure it out, since they had enough problems themselves.

This whole discussion took place in our living room and it went hard. To clarify it I started to explain how I look upon the history of Yugoslavia, I mean I haven't been living in Yugoslavia, but I lived there long enough to develop my ideas of what has happened. And you can't see the crisis in Albania at this moment when you don't take into consideration the history of Yugoslavia as well. The foreign minister of Albania declared yesterday by the way that he is of the opinion that this Kosov@ conflict should be solved peacefully if possible and not with ground troops. I think that that is a very brave statement in a country where you can buy UCK support materials on almost every street corner, you name it, they have it with UCK on it. And where also young men from Albania join the UCK as volunteers to liberate their brothers in order to form a greater Albania or whatever its name should be. It is not clear what the Kosovars think about becoming a part of Albania, I think the opinion there is mixed. Clear for them is that it will be hard to live with the Serbs again.

This all happened before the group of volunteers, Blerta, the Albanian translator and me went to see the swimmingpool camp. Just to see what we are actually talking about. Not that every refugee camp looks the same or that every camp is organised the same, but how horrible though it might sound this camp is more or less agreed upon as the camp which is shown to NGO's when they have new people coming in. Before we went in I said that we would only be looking at the Child Friendly Space, but that was not really neccesary since all of the volunteers felt like an invader of somebody's privacy anyway. The guards at the gate checked our ID cards (which you can make with a small laptop and a mobile printer) so hurdle number one was taken very easily (by the way for what reason do they put up security at a gate when every idiot with a selfmake ID can just pass it?).

The whole visit took just less than half an hour, but during the visit something happened that was a good lesson for all and that is something you can talk about a thousand times but which people only start realising when it is happening. One of the volunteers brought a football, she carried it in her bag so I hadn't seen it. At the end of the visit, when we were surrounded by children from the camp, which more or less know by now that strangers means candies

wam :-)