By Avushe Zhuka
Right at the period Kosovo is faced with a tense situation as a result of violent protests happening after the statements of Serbian Minister Aleksander Jabllanovic, a group of children of Kosovo and Serbian nationality are meeting nearby the city of Prizren. These meetings are being organized for quite some time now by the children participating in the peace clubs. This idea was proposed by the children some years after the Kosovo’ war ended an idea which was supported by the “World Vision” as a project. The peace clubs have been established in the rural areas, where children’ activities are limited, therefore their interest to be part of such a project has been great.
“Everything has been built on the basis of regular meetings, in which, Albanian and Serbian children visit each other schools, places of residence and learn about the traditions and culture”. They learn about peace and are prepared to solve conflicts by being the change agents at the communities they live in. The activities are made for the children to feel comfortable to learn about the common elements they share. At those places children are acquainted to a different reality from the one they listen in their communities, as they meet each other in person, said the chief of the group in “World Vision” Kosovo, Persiana Kamberaj. The tense situation in Kosovo is reflected also by the children’ parents, who, hesitate to let them in the joint meetings, as they want to be sure there are no conflicts, which might affect their children.
Even in the early phases of the project, the Albanian and Serbian children’ involvement in these meetings has not been easy. They could not accept the nationality of the other, as their parents and they have experienced the war and the conflict. Daca Ullamoviq is a 12-year old Serbian girl, who joined the peace club two years ago. She lives in Rrahovec region and is part of a six-member family. The city has been divided in two parts, the Serbian and the Albanian neighborhood, Daca’ intention to be part of the peace clubs was to meet Albanians, which was a way to avoid the past, was expressed the six-grade student. She was aware of the project aims, her mother advised her as well to be part of the meetings with Albanian children.
The 12-years old said “it was not easy to be part of the project, as the Serbian community and her school mates did not received this very well”. Many children want to be part of the project, but their parents falter as a result of an incident happening some time ago in the community, in which an Albanian man killed a Serbian child. Daca hopes to have more peace between the two communities. Despite of all the effort to forget the past, she says it is not certain if there will be peace in Kosovo. The Project for the establishment of the peace clubs supported by “World Vision” in Kosovo started in the regions of Lipjan, Mitrovica, Rahovec and Gracanica. There are 15 peace clubs in these regions with children’ age ranging from 11-15 years old, and around 300 children in total involved. Similarly, there are 5 clubs of peace for youth involved in different cultural activities.
Sadri Hasani a teacher in Osman Rama school in Cabër, Zybi i Patokut Commune, says that many children want to be part of peace clubs. Sometimes it gets difficult for them to accept everyone in because of the big number. However, there have been cases that children have withdrawn, such as the cases of 3 peace clubs in Mitrovica, in which the Serbian children remained active only for a 6-months period. “Children’ parents agreed but their communities’ judgments did not allow them to let their children to go on these meetings. As a result the Serbian children didn’t continue to go in the peace clubs. The community was afraid by the Northern Kosovo stand”, says Hasani. The peace clubs in these regions are made up only of Albanian children, but the efforts to contact the Serbian community and to involve their children in common activities have not stopped. In the other hand, there are also parents that cannot accept the idea of collaboration of the children of the two communities.
Even for the 16- years old participant of the youth peace clubs, Krenare Luma, has not been easy to be part of such an initiative, as the fact to meet Serbian children was not accepted by her parents. Krenare is from Kraisht village in Lipjan region, and has a 7 member family. She joined the meetings conducted with the Serbian children 6 years ago. “Everything went ok, until the moment my family learned I was meeting with Serbian children. My father has fought in the Kosovo war, and could not accept the idea. He has fought against Serbians and did not allow me in the beginning. Later, he let me to be part of the activities, but yet cannot accept the idea of collaboration with Serbs. He has changed some with the passing of time, bu,t he finds difficult to leave aside all the feelings he has experienced during the war” confesses the 16 year old.
She was involved in the peace clubs 6 years ago, and hopes that the situation will change. “I want Kosovo to not have any conflicts. Perhaps, we will not achieve to change our parents’ minds, but hope that this will happen with the new generations”. In the collaboration started between Serb and Albanian children, but also Bosnia and Montenegrin seems that the idea of peace and acceptance of cultures and different beliefs is sprouting some roots. Young children are easy to accept to collaborate and get acquainted with each other, while, the older people are more difficult because of the reactions and the opinion of their community, but, also for those who hear on television of some cases that lead to conflicts. Peace team leaders say “protests occurring in Pristine have influenced the youth clubs, but they hope that the situation will calm down so that children do not fall prey of the pressure of the communities they live in”.
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