Last Message from Kosova

It has been a hot and dusty week, the perspiration dries before you can absorb it in your clothes. I have been trying to keep hydrated; yesterday I was out in the sun and was in a car without A.C. so it was a tough day. I will try and give a run down of events that have been occurring this week. On Monday Rand and I had a social appointment with the director of Xhevedet Doda. We went to his house/flat to meet his family and look at his photo albums. He has had an interesting life. Several times he has been placed in Prison in 1969 he spent a month in jail; in 1974 he started a 5 year sentence. In 1981 another 2 months, 1989-3 months, and 1998 another 3 months. The exact reason was unclear because of translation but I can tell you that this man is of great character and in my opinion did nothing that would deserve such treatment. I suppose that you could say that about a number of people who have similar stories here in Kosova. Basically it was because they did not change with the new system fast enough. It is hard to deny basic Human Nature/ Rights to ask why about something. As Rand and I were walking out the door he asked us to wait one more minute and then disappeared downstairs to the basement. When he came back up he had 2 bottles of 1992 Kosova Cabernt Sauvignon. He informed us that it was a superb year and was a quality wine. We realized that this was a generous gesture/gift on his part. We tried to refuse but he insisted.

After our goodbyes we parted and headed back to town where we had separate meetings. I went off to visit an old Friend Xheraldina from Radio 21. This woman has enough energy to power the station without electricity! I come here to try and lift people’s spirits but in this case she reenergized me! I told her of the bottles of wine and showed her my bottle. She looked at the label and said ooohhh this is a great year but that is only half of the story. This bottle is from 1992 way before the war. They took everything of any value. This is extremely rare to have in ones possession! Being told that really made a point with Rand and me. Neither of us has much money and really support the school with our hearts not our pocketbooks. Some things are more valuable than money. Armando if you want a bottle of your own you will have to come here yourself! It is my hope that he will visit us in the states someday or that I will get the chance to go Skiing with him in Montenegro where his family has a house / chalet. In my last letter I mentioned the story of the goats and being connected with a family I met last year in Tirana. Today Lirijeta and I had a few extra minutes on our way home from the field and stopped by for another quick visit. This time I had the chance to talk a little more, give the children a few cheap plastic balls I picked up along the way and slipped 60 DM in the mothers hand with a few photos from the previous visit. I also pulled a few extra shirts from my luggage and gave them as well. The children were glad to see me and immediately started hugging me. They asked me how Nichol and Edith were and where they were. They also remembered Jessica, Bill, And Jan. Then they pulled out a photo of them with Edith. AAAhh Edith a women with a heart of gold. I tried to give them an honest account of where they all were and then it was time to go. Unfortunately I will probably not have another chance to see them but then again who knows. On Wednesday Rand and I went to Peja and Gjakova to visit the Balkan Sunflowers summer camps. I have always been amazed at what this small, poorly funded NGO can do. I can tell you that all I see is smiles! On the children’s faces and the volunteers as well. I have to tell you that WE DO GOOD WORK! We have been able to place Romas with Kosovar children with few incidents. Incidents that would occur with any group of children fighting for attention from the adults. Casey has done incredible work in Peja building a garden with vegetables and flowers all done with the local children. Jen has her hands full in Gjakova doing a 6 day over night summer camp. It has an ideal location with a small field out front and a large stream out back for cooling off. The main base is a refurbished motel that has enough room for all the children and counselors to sleep and also has a large kitchen for the 3 meals a day that they serve. If you ever have the time to Volunteer I would encourage you to do so. If that is to much to ask of one self, then find some spare change and wire to our account Listed on the web site balkansunflower.org (sorry for the plug).

All in all it has been a pretty productive week but not in the usual way. Besides the livestock project I have had a lot of free time. In one way it has been frustrating, I am used to being up and out by 7am, now I am up by that time and out by 8-8:30. I have spent many days just getting a better overall impression of Kosova and the countryside. It is good to get out of Prishtina. This place seems like it has a bubble placed over the city. One must leave the city limits to truly get a sense of what is going on. Unfortunately not enough are doing that. With all this free time I was able to go back to “Sekiraqa” again to visit the Serb Village that I visited last week. As we pulled up to the driveway Perovic noticed me in the back seat and had a big grin on his face. I trust felt welcome. We then gave them some copies of the photos I had taken the previous visit. This went over very well. So well that, I was asked to take some more which I did. Copies will be brought on Alina’s next trip next month. I have found that my camera and the pictures that I give back to the families are a big hit. It has meant a lot to each family and also has helped ease my conscious about Invading there lives for documentation. We did drink some more Sjivovica but not as much as the last time… aliuna’s Husband works for FAO and was there to get a look and see if they needed help in the form of Food and Agriculture, he said that all they might need is some seed and fertilizer which he should be able to do fairly easily. He told me a story about the Sjivovica and how in Russia and other parts of the Eastern block This Rocket fuel is used for antifreeze in the windshield washers and also in the radiators of the cars to prevent the water from freezing! I do not doubt it for a minute. It probably could dissolve rust, grease, & Livers as well! It is Sunday afternoon here and the sun is beating down again without Mercy, I only have 2 more days to mop up some loose ends and say my goodbyes, It will be with mixed emotions that this trip comes to an end In one way my job is done and I have little to keep myself occupied, in another way I wish that I had more time, projects, and funds. Looking back I like to think that it was worth my time, and the expense for me and my many sponsors to come back a third time. A lot of what I have accomplished can not be put on paper in the form of numbers. But I like to think that my efforts here in the long run will help. I would like to take a moment to thank all who have written to me, it truly has meant a lot to get feed back and news from home and from friends from all over. I also would like to thank those who helped finance this trip and entrust me with your hard earned money. It has allowed me to grow as a person and also see a part of the world that we only see on the 6 o’clock news….Not Really!

It also has given me the opportunity to help those who are truly in need; this is a reward that money can buy.

If spent in the proper way. Peace, Jonathan