We arrived in Kosovo yesterday. By “we” I mean myself, Gani Ahmetaj (a Kosovo citizen, residing in the U.S.), Al Anding, who funds this project, and John Kappelman, a dairyman who is interested in helping develop the dairy industry here in Kosovo.
Low mountains and foothills surround Pristina, the largest city which houses their main airport. Despite the beauty off in the distance, the city of Pristina feels a bit like its under construction. The signs are everywhere of a city working to recover. Roads feel like they’ve been carved through a construction site–unpaved and full of potholes. Getting from here to there takes awhile. But they are recovering from the trauma of a war most of us can’t comprehend.
On our arrival day we attended a celebration, marking the 10th anniversary of the date that the Serbs left Skenderaj, the town where we’re working, and a “hot spot” in the war. Memorials and graves of fallen young men are everywhere. 900 of the 6000 inhabitants are war widows. The young adult population is soaring.
And despite the fact that things we take for granted are hard to come by, that the country around them is in shambles, the people are some of the warmest I’ve ever met. They are strong and proud. As we walk through the streets, the women take my arm and hold me close.
I feel welcome and happy to be here.