I hope that the last message did not Rock your world to much. Just a little frustration on my part. It is still slow going here, like I have said several times before it takes 3 times as long to get the simplest thing accomplished here. I was in the field yesterday doing some more observations and assessment. For some at UNHCR they look and wonder if I am the new guy or something. Today I went with Alina a Russian field officer for UNHCR who works primarily with the minority populations here in Kosova. Serbs mainly. Today we went high in to the hills past Podujeva to a small Serb hamlet called Sekiraqa It required an escort from the local Czech KFOR troops. The local villagers have a 3 K.M. walk to catch a Serbian Bus into a Serb town. That is how close we were to the Border. Beautiful country. as I told the elder as I left you can almost touch the clouds from here. They treated me warmly even though Americans are considered an enemy of the Serbs. We drank “Sjivovica” a Plum ROCKET FUEL! In situations like this it is my duty to drink and toast, drink and toast. Even if it is only 12p.m. Pretty potent stuff. In the few experiences (yeah right) where I have had to drink so much so early I am normally done for the day by 5 p.m. this stuff actually does not have that effect. I was fine until my normal bed time. I guess that the training before/during my trip helped! I was there for several reasons, primarily to leave a small donation (600 DM) to the families of the hillside Hamlet. This entire hamlet is a group of elder Serbs with the youngest around 60-65 years of age. In other words there are no young people to help with the chores most of the time unless one of the families Grandchildren or sons is visiting. They determined that it would be best to let each family decide how to spend the funds individually / collectively. They assume that it will go towards Feed for their livestock i.e. pigs and sheep, cattle, or towards fuel for a minivan that they are supposed to Receive from UNMIK. I wanted to tell them that if they used the Plum Brandy for fuel for the vehicle then they would have more to go towards feed for livestock but I thought well. We hugged, shook hands, took pictures, and enjoyed each others company for over an hour. They invited me back; I did not decline but doubt that I will have the chance to go back. They make a cheese there that is as smooth and sweet as the best Mozzarella I have had. The texture was superb. It will be one of those memories that will surely stay longer them most from here. It is hard to keep them all, there have been so many.
I went back to the Drenica region to tag along with Liriejta and assess more families, when I say more of the same please remember that is not said coldly. We visited the second Village in the Drenica region that has left over 70 families with no male /father figure. Every site that we have visited is either a category 4 or 5 which means that there house is so damaged that most N.G.O.’s do not even consider giving them Funds for rebuilding there homes. Tents dot the landscape here in this region. On the way out we stopped by a Collection center. A collection center is a place where they place entire families that have no place to live. This site is an old Chicken farm with 6 long barns of which 2 are being used for the families. In each barn there are 20-22 tents. If each tent has an average of 5 people then that means that there are over 200 displaced families in this location alone. I was introduced to one of the older gentleman there as an American. He wasn’t real impressed. His comment was that we get a lot of visitors here but no one does anything for us. I feel the same way myself. It is tough going to each location and not being able to help. Give me 10 million dollars and I could do something. If they are forced to stay there for the winter because of no better option then it will be difficult. Each tent has a flue for their chimney which means that they will be burning firewood. The first thing that comes to my mind is what will happen if one of the tents catches fire. This very same thing happened in Turkey in an outdoor collection center after the earthquake. The CNN /BBC film footage was not a pretty sight!
I was riding along yesterday and it occurred to me that either yesterday or today (Friday) was the anniversary of my 1st day in Kosova. I will save/ spare you my thoughts on what has happened in the last year for another time. I would say that all in all things have improved a great deal but they surely could be farther along. I look at the budget for the entire operation here in Kosova last year, $900. Million dollars and wonder where the money went. I realize that it does cost a lot and will take time to get this place back on its feet again but still I question the fact that there will be numerous families that will be out in the cold this winter. It is hard not to question the expense and the priorities here.
it is going to be a hot one today; the last week has been rather pleasant. The water and elec. has been on a regular basis.3am to 6am. I have nothing major on my agenda today. I still have to purchase and distribute the funds earmarked for livestock; it has been difficult finding the time with UNHCR to do this, hopefully if all goes well we will set aside Thursday to go to the market and purchase and distribute to the families all in one day. If this does not transpire I will have to go to a plan B. Any Suggestions? Imp not too concerned. Yet! I have been working on the other small projects that I wanted to work on. The Bank accounts for both schools are open and now ready for wiring money. I will try and find time to teach Shukrije how to use e-mail but she became a Grandmother for the 1st time so her priorities have understandably changed. Still the university library does have classes for free and also free internet service so hopefully that could take my place. It have had several meetings with IPKO an NGO that set up internet to schools, it looks promising for both Xhevdet Doda and hopefully Faik Konica but I will believe it when I receive it! They say that maybe by September or early October. I realize that these letters get a little long winded, sorry, besides keeping friends and family informed, I also try and use this as a supplement to my journal. I have received many e-mails saying hello, thank you and don’t stop. Thank you for your support…I am here for another 10 days. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.