O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 25 May 1999

Tirana 25 Mai 1999

The day started with three more interviews with Kosov@ refugees, I think by now I am almost able to imagine what has happened there, from some of the people who were involved. Got more and more descriptions of which para-military group was active where. The white eagles, part of Arkans brigade, were heavily active in the middle of the country it seems - the descriptions seem very close to some brigades I have seen in Pakrac in western Slavonia in late 1994. They don't have the reputation of being soft. Parts of this brigade marched into Vukovar in the winter of 1991 singing that they would make sausages of the Ustashes (Croatians). I heard bad stories about the foodsupplies some people are (not) getting here, but also that it is getting better. It is hard to hear between the lines, to understand what is true and what is rumours, to know what are facts, and what are fears. Again it is so diffecult to cope with the place people are putting you in, they put all their hopes into you, and I am just a guy wondering around on the streets of Tirana. After that I went with a group of young volunteers from the Albanian Youth Council to a camp about 15 km south of Tirana. Every day a group of 12 or so people from the Tirana Youth center are going there. They are on highschools and university and doing their best to bring something of normallity into these camps. Last week they f.e. organised a discussion between Albanian guys and Kosovarian about going to fight in the UCK. The Albanians of this group are really afraid of all those young guys going to the front, on the other hand they can understand it so perfectly. Among the people in the small mini bus was another foreigner besides me, a monk from a Japanese Buddhist group, which also likes to send volunteers here. On the way to Mullet we talked a bit, he knew SuncoKret, since they have been visiting refugee camps in Croatia in 1994 and every place they came they bumbed into SuncoKret volunteers. he was talking about them all the time, telling that something like that should happen here. But I didn't explain who I was. Since I was eager to find out how a buddhist would react on what he was seeing and push him a bit talking to the local people instead of talking to me. On the way to the refugee camp the youngsters were joking a lot, and singing songs I didn't understand, but were explained to me as being love songs towards the girl sitting in front of the mini bus. Kind of making jokes with her. They radiate at least a lot of energy, full of power these kids. The camp is a former army camp, or is still an army camp, that didn't became clear to me, it´s security is not police, but Albanian army. I still have to get used to this fact that every bigger camp has armed guards standing around it. They rather look like prison camps instead of refugee camps, but that is not the reality. If these guards weren't there much more things could happen. Always get into your head that refugees don't have to be necessarily poor, allthough most of them didn't come with anything (but still some people were able to get some jewelry with them), and that they are an easy target. Besides from the direct money, people can see money in the girls, I must admit that Albanian women, and in this case I am not only talking about locals, but also those coming from Kosov@ are the types with could heat up western european men very easily. This sounds a bit sexistic, but let's be honest, the trade of women is going on, it is a reality which everybody has to face. And really these are mostly not the worst looking girls around. I have been thinking a long time before I wrote this, since it sounds like a macho, looking at girls all the time, but I decided to write it this way to make it understandable. I am man enough to understand it. Hope you understand. It were not only local Albanians which came with us, also some guys from Kosov@, this was simple to see since they where wearing the same t-shirts as the poeple in the swimmingpool camp here in Tirana, namely from an Israelian organisation called "Histramut", until now I have seen those t-shirts only in the swimmingpool camp. By the way although the camp in Mullet is runned by the Norwegian People Aid organisation their clothes are coming from a dutch organisation, half of the camp was wearing obvious Dutch commercial t-shirts. I was in a mood of just observing, just looking at what are these Albanians are having for a program. But once at the refugee camp I realised that they changed the actual programme totally. They had planned to make a big clean up of the camp and prepare some parts to put sun- and other flowers into a kind of planning meeting for the next weeks and a culture event for us. For something more than an hour we were entertained by songs and poems, Ging from songs like: "I love my mother I love my sister I love my homeland I love kosova and one day I will make it free" to love poems about their boyfriends they are missing, since it is impossible to trace them, if they are alive or not, nobody knows. When this was over, I must be honest they sing beautifull it could last for hours if you ask me. The more pragmatic (this word is not existing in the Albanian languages, honestly) people came up to me explaining what they need, like football dresses, volley and basket balls, a small camera and so on, I didn't promise them everything but somewhere I hope that we can materialise it. Just on the side line when somebody knows where to get 10.000 swimming suits it would help us a lot. The Kosovarians now at the seaside haven't had or weren't able to take this with them. After this culture part the poor small japanese was nearly runned over, since he brought his camera and everybody wanted to have his or her foto taken. All this time I was looking with an half eye at some long haired hippies distrubuting candies. Later I talked with them, they were from a french organisation called rock&food, who organise concerts in France to raise money to bring here as humanitarian aid, they had collected 9 mini trucks full and bring it to Kukes, in this camp they brought candies and some other things today. Furtheron I had a very funny conversation in Croatian, we agreed that the languages was Croatian and not Serbian with some people coming from Pristina, about football and the how Ajax was the best in Europe. I was surprised how much I could explain in this language, understanding I am used to, but I normally never spoke it. But I also was surprised that the younger kosovarians didn't understand it. They only understand Albanian and only in the kosov@ dialect, although teaching in Albanian was already forbidden in Kosov@ for some years, all the official education was in Serbian (which is not so different from Croatian or Bosnian). After all this I asked the girl from Tirana who was translating all the time to go for a coffee in the cafe. She looked at me if I was mad, the coffee bar was in town she said, 5 km away. No, I replied, I saw a coffee bar in this camp. No way she said, I have been here 15 times or more and I haven't seen one. She was really surprised when I took her into one of the buildings which indeed had a coffee bar inside, with almost 50 people in it. She wanted to know how I knew it, I told here that I have been in many camps and that I am trained in warzone, so I have my eyes and ears open. That when I visit a camp I don't ask much but just look around and see. And that I know something about balkan mentality. By the way it was the cheapest coffee bar I ever went in this country, 15 lek for coffee, in Tirana the cheapest place asks 50 lek. On the way back the Japanese asked me who I was, I told him my name and what I had in common with SuncoKret and we ended in a coffe bar in Tirana, me explaining somebody who is already longer in this country then me how this country is ticking. Later in the evening a nun from this catholic organisation I met on Friday at the weekly rotary club meeting called. Say to me religions can bring people to war, I am talking here to buddhist, mormons, qaukers, ananda marga, jahovas, salvation army, zen buddhists, different catholic organisations, mennnonites, different protestant churches, islamic, antroposhic, orthodox and I am from origin a jew. Explain me war are because of religion.....

Mir sada,

wam ;-)