We returned from our trip to Kosovo early Wednesday morning after a very long travel day and despite the inconveniences of travel, I found that this gave me much-needed time for reflection…it’s almost as if I need to continue reliving each experience to be sure I’ve learned the lessons that are there.
I am so happy with the arrangement that we created with the Antigona group. After more talks we decided to rent a small retail space in a new development in Skenderaj. This way the women will have more visibility to increase their presence in the area. Additionally, we shopped with them for fabrics so that they could create some original designs to be sold “off the rack” in the shop.
I felt the need to create an informal contract, spelling out our donations and the expectations attached, giving the entire exchange a little more of a business feel. I wondered how this would be received–if, culturally, this would cause defenses to rise-if it would seem like a cold gesture. As I sat in the small sewing room, with my sweet 16-year old translator and this serious group of women, talking through each step, it was clear that they wanted to take this seriously as well and were happy to have expectations clearly mapped out. In that small circle, that small business meeting, I felt not only a new beginning for their dream of a business, but also the warmth of this new partnership that has been created. Our smiles and warm exchanges sealed the deal and I know that we are friends–women from opposite sides of the world understanding one another on a woman to woman basis.
We will return to Kosovo and I am excited to do so. I am anxious to see how these women run with this opportunity and make it their own. I am anxious to see this group again–these women I am proud to call my new friends.