KosovaLive360

One room, one teacher, two classes…

The building in which the classes of the elementary school “Liria” in the Bilnica village, municipality of Gjilan, learn, has three classrooms only. One classroom is used by the teacher Armend Rexhepi, who teaches first and third grade, the other classroom is for second and fourth graders taught by Milikije Osmani. Whereas the third room is a teacher’s room for the two teachers currently working in this inadequate building.

Teacher Rexhepi, on his way to the classroom with student record books for both classes, says that teaching two classes simultaneously requires double the effort.

First and third graders share the same classroom at the same time, despite different curriculums.  After he engages first graders to read, he explains math problems to third graders. In the remaining 15 minutes, while the 8 year olds write down their math assignments, the 6 year olds explain the text they just read.

The pupils learn within imaginary walls, while 6 year old Viola reads the story of the letter “Z”, 8 year old Drilon shows his knowledge on hexagons.

The teacher’s rules prohibit pupils from talking to each other. Viola can’t even say bless you to the third grader Erona, her only friend, who has the flu.

Their teacher Rexhepi says: “I try to make them feel as if they are the only class being taught”.

He has eight pupils, three first graders and five third graders. They sit facing opposite directions and each “class” has their own black board. The teacher does this intentionally, to improve the learning quality.

Parents who were there to pick their children up from school, said that they were satisfied with teacher Rexhepi’s work, however they were also aware that this kind of teaching makes it hard for pupils to learn.

Split classes, no doubt, negatively affect the education process and cause difficulties in pre university education.

Currently education for the rural population in Kosovo is poor and requires reforms. Improvements are necessary in the approach, quality and the connection between obligatory education and trainings for the rural population, education needs to be there for everyone and offer quality learning opportunities for all,” it is written in the strategy for rural education document of the Ministry of Education.

On the other hand, parents say that their children need a lot more concentration and motivation in order to be equal to their peers in other schools.

Teacher Milikije Osmani- Latifi also speaks of the efforts and concentration of the pupils of the same school: she works with split classes as well, she teaches second and fourth graders.

It’s a job that requires a lot of will and professionalism. We try to give our best so that these pupils get a proper education and don’t get stuck somewhere in their future education” Latifi says.

She has difficulties with arranging the class because it has nearly 20 pupils and not enough space. Therefore, working with each student individually, is out of the question.

Xhenete Hasani

 

 

Keeping the maiden name, aiming to preserve the identity after marriage

Kumrie Gashi, like many women in Kosovo, changed her last name when she got married. All of the women in her family had done the same, and she hopes that this tradition will continue after her.

“Since I have come to live with my husband, in his house and he is the one who provides for the family, I consider that our family should be identified by his last name,” Gashi says.

Unlike in the past, nowadays a woman can choose to keep her maiden name, that of her husband or both. Register Office in the Municipality of Prishtina, does not possess the exact statistics of women that have kept their maiden name. Though, it is assumed that approximately 70% of women who got married since 2000, have kept both last names.

Sociologist, Linda Gusia considers that different factors, such as the education of women and their career, have contributed to women’s hesitation to change their last name. She is glad that many women are considering into consideration keeping their maiden name even after marriage, a phenomenon that in the past was not even discussed about.

“Definitely, the change of the mindset among some, when it comes to marriage is undeniably a factor. It’s not only that the wife moves to her husband’s home, but rather a union of two individuals, and as such perhaps does not imply the change of her last name”, Gusia says.

Gusia herself decided to keep her maiden name after marriage. She says that she never considered changing her last name, since she considered it as a part of her identity. The fact that she dealt with gender studies and she was aware that the patriarchal society functions by denying the identity of women, increased the relevance of her decision to not change her last name.

“For me, it was absurd that for a considerable period in your life you are someone, and once in love, and once you decide to live with someone else, you change your name, you decide to become someone else”, Gusia says.

According to her, some of the reasons why women change their last name could be their desire to be identified as a family with her husband, or feel uncomfortable with their maiden name and are not bound to it as much.

This doesn’t represent a problem as long as it is their own choice, and it’s not imposed by either the institutions or the family, she considers. It becomes problematic, Gusia says, when the institutions “limit the choices of citizens”.

She explains that together with her husband, they had decided to give their daughter both their last names, but that request was not approved by the Municipality of Prishtina. They were told that children can have only one last name. Institutions should do away with the patriarchal dimension that requires the change of name in order to show who the children and the wife belong to.

Sara Gashi-Koraqi didn’t find it so easy to drop the maiden name, which she had for 19 years. She wanted to keep her maiden name in order to remind her of her roots and her origin, and be at least a bit different from other women in her husband’s family. According to her, changing her last name would be a big transformation, given that people knew her by her maiden name. By keeping both names, people could identify her much easier, and also, would have realized that she’s been married, she thinks.

“My maiden name was a part of me, something that my family gave me long ago, and thus it seemed to me unfair not to keep it”, she says.

Fatime Avdiu, on the other hand, thought that keeping both would be too long of a name, so she decided to keep only her husband’s.

“It has always been like this. My mother and my grandmother have also changed their names and so did I”, she says.

Although she has changed her last name, she thinks that it would have been better if she didn’t do it. She suggests her daughter to keep her maiden name.

Bulza Capriqi

A spot for a bit of happiness for the children with disabilities

In a space of around 30 square meters, children with disabilities are finding happiness and support: Hendikos association in Ferizaj has opened an unusual library where these children can play and borrow educational toys and all sorts of books.

The manager of this association for 16 years now, Xhemile Murseli, says that this is the first time that Kosovo has a space of this kind, with different toys that impact the development of the abilities and the imagination of the children.

Toys library was opened last November and everyone under 18 has an access to it. Toys are selected for each category of children, following consultations with the library assistant Besmire Bajrami.

Children can use the space each working day, for as long as they consider necessary: they are provided physiotherapy trainings, additional learning, whereas parents are provided advices on how to work with their children.

Hendikos, founded in 1997, is one of the first organizations to offer services for people with disabilities, with a special focus on children.

The municipality also provides support for this category, helping them in different aspects.

“The institutional care towards this category will never be lacking”, Mayor of Ferizaj, Muharrem Svarça, says. But major supporters, who are the main pillars of the association, are the donors, respectively foreign organizations.

Alongside financial support, Save The Children, which co-partners with Hendikos,  also provides various trainings for employees.

“Employees are adequately trained and prepared and licensed for social services. They attend different trainings financed through  projects throughout the year, having the developed countries as a model. So, we`re continually investing in capacity building’, manager of Hendikos adds.

Parents are satisfied with the support their children are provided in this space, where except play they also receive additional learning and physiotherapy trainings.

Together they have created three self-supporting groups, divided according to their children`s abilities. During their meetings they discuss how to confront challenges, offer support and advice to each-other and launch activities towards the improvement of  conditions provided by the Municipality.

“We will  make sure we do everything possible so that this category, too feels equal with everyone in the city”, Mayor Svarça said.

The education level of the children with disabilities in Ferizaj municipality is satisfactory. Only 47 out of 132 are not involved in the education process. The non-inclusion is due to teachers not being equipped with skills on how to work with these children, as well as due to social and economic conditions, transport etc.

Problems with transport make planning and developing activities outside of the center difficult to Hendikos members. They own an vehicle, donated by the Municipality in 2005, which according to association`s members, most of the time is broken. This causes difficulties in completing the activities planned aimed at integrating children with disabilities into society.

Xheneta Hasani

Perspective of youth in Istog: amid dreams and “plan B”

Istog`s youth see a bright future ahead, that`s why a large number of them decided to study in one of Kosovo`s universities. They are mainly supported by their families, but a small number of them must work in order to complete their studies.

Flakresa Zeqiraj, from village of Studenicë, second year student at University of Prishtina, says that after completing her studies she sees herself employed in one of the news media in Kosovo, be it print or broadcast.

Flakresa is aware that it is difficult to find a job today, but says that she will be persistent.

“After I gain some experience, and present politics of the country changes, I will achieve that”, she hopes, aware that almost all the news media are located in Prishtina and that it is an emerging profession.

There are also those who would like to work in their hometown, close to their families and friends, although they think there are better job opportunities in Prishtina.

Most of them say that they haven`t thought of any other possible job, since their priority is completing their Bachelor studies, some of them even master, and thus reaching to the job they wish to.

A small number of them, however, thought of any other job as “their second plan”.

Elvina Rexhaj, from village of Cerrcë, senior at the Department of Albanian Literature, says that apart from aspiring a job in her profession after she completes her master studies, would work as a graphic designer, if she fails in finding a job as an Albanian Literature teacher.

A number of them, who are able to pay for it, are planning to pursue their master studies outside Kosovo, somewhere in Western countries, and also find a job there, given that the job market there is larger than here.

Arta Haliti from Istog, senior at the Department of  Biology, currently working in telemarketing in Pro Call, has such plan too. After graduating she plans to continue master studies abroad and would return to work here only if better conditions were created and she would be able to find a nice job.

The assumption that “in Kosovo one can have the most delicious coffee for it is prepared by university graduates”, is not just an anecdote, for there are numerous cases of those with university diplomas working as waiters or bartenders.

However, Laureta from Studenicë (who wanted to remain anonymous) is one of those students who has completed her studies and hasn`t managed to find a job. After completing her bachelor studies at the Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences (FMS), she applied for many jobs, including in banking (where she was an intern), in insurance companies, and recently she applied for a job at Devolli Company, in its finances sector, but she hasn’t received any answer from none of them, yet.

Laureta sees the lack of experience as one of the main reasons for not getting any the jobs so far, since, for wherever she applied, they required at least two years of experience. She is puzzled how she can build experience when she cannot get a job, and only freshly graduated.

Laureta still lives in Prishtina and is financed by her parents and if she won`t be able to get a job, will have to go back home and remain unemployed.

Fatjon Maxharraj from the village of Vrellë, graduate from the Department of Engineering Chemistry of FMNS at the University of Prishtina, where he is currently doing his master in Analytical Chemistry, aspires applying for several jobs, in private sector (food companies or pharmaceutical), as an engineer (e.g. TreePharm, Sinalco), in high schools or even at the university as a professor, for he considers he would meet the required criteria.

His mother, Fetije, says if their children get a job that could provide enough income for themselves and their families, would be the greatest reward and gratitude parents get for the sacrifice they have made for them.

The employment rate in Kosovo for 2015 is 5.5%, according to the 2015 Annual Report of the Department of Labour and Employment of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW).

According to this report, there were 1,054 individual job seekers and only 255 jobs available during the respective year.

According to the Job Management Information Systems, 323 jobs were available in Istog since the beginning of 2016, whereas the employment offices were intermediaries in full time employment of 79 people (26 out of which were between ages 15-24, 36  job seekers between the ages of 25-39, whereas 17 of them above 40).

Gentiana Maxharraj

Earning a living from honey

For nearly three years, Jehona and Agron Dabiqaj from the village Prilep in the municipality of Deҫan, have entered the market selling honey products. They make a living out of this. Despite the fact that the weather this year was not favorable, they made timely extraction of honey.

But not everyone was so fortunate. Many bee keepers, suffered losses for they were counting on good weather conditions, and had failed to extract honey on time.

Jehona worked as a marketing officer at “Golden Honey” factory in Deҫan, that was financed by the European Commission. Aside from guards, the factory is now empty. It was shut down after the municipality heads approved a proposal to put on lease. This decision was followed by numerous complaints by citizens, concerned that this project was politically motivated from its onset, and blamed the international community, claiming that the project was made in cooperation with the personnel of the Deçan Monastery, aimed at recognizing its ownership over the beekeeping enterprise “APIKO”.

With no job at the factory, Jehona began to engage in the family business. Fortunately, her husband’s family had a long year beekeeping tradition. Her husband taught her the practical part of the job, whereas she was very well familiar with the theory from her previous work at “Golden Honey”.

In 2014, at the onset of their business, she and Agron had 34 bee hives. In two years they expanded to 400 hives. Some of the hives are at their home in Prilep, but lacking land, they also keep hives in Gllogjan, Shaptej and Suhareka.

Out of 127 plants that you can extract honey from, they produce flower, meadow, mountain, acacia, chestnut honey and honey from the rare thyme plant.

Albeit an unproductive year for beekeepers, Jehona says that compared to last year that they extracted 700 kilos from 130 hives, this year they extracted 250 kilos from the 70 hives containing worker bees, since other bees were in reproduction.

Jehona was supported through two grants from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Rural Development. It has been nearly a year that she and Agron voluntarily found the association that assists beekeepers and provides advice.

Jehona point out that U.S., German and Arabian companies have shown interest in cooperation with them, being that they highly valued the quality of the honey. However, such a cooperation was not possible this year due to unfavorable weather conditions, she adds. For the time being, they sell honey in Kosovo, only.

Beside beekeeping, Jehona also attends trainings of trainers, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Rural Development, for grant in agriculture. She donated her book “The role of women in beekeeping” (“Roli i femrës në bletari”) to 100 women who want to pursue this activity.

There are no existing statistics of the number of individual entrepreneur families in Deҫan dealing with beekeeping.

Safete Gacaferi, director of “JETA” women’s association, says that 10 years ago the association organized beekeeping courses for 30 women participants. She says that only two of them are into beekeeping today.

Liridona Berisha

Women of Deҫan financially help their households, while preserving the tradition

 

For many women from Deҫan, handwork is not only an element of tradition that has been preserved for generations, but also an occupation to sustain their households.

Albeit they don’t profit much from it, they still zealously continue their work . They love the work they do and say that they have no other choice.

Most of them are middle-aged women or older, who did not have the opportunity to pursue their education.

Aferdita H., 40 years old form Deçan, together with her sisters-in-law Besa and  Hedije, is into creating hand-made traditional costumes, that are worn by the bride on the second day of the marriage.

“I knit socks, whereas my sisters-in-law make the shirt, the vest (jelek) and the traditional aprons (known as pshjellakët). Although a slow and arduous work, I am happy that people in Deçan still keep the tradition alive and buy traditional costumes,” Aferdita says.

She says that her husband’s salary is not sufficient to afford the education of their five children.

“This is how we can afford the education of our children, since we could not afford our own education, and this is the only way I can contribute to the household,” Aferdita informs.

Zyle Balaj 68, from Strellc, a village of the municipality of Deҫan says that she started hand-knitting when she was nine years old. Today she makes traditional pants (so called tirq) for men and traditional Rugova costume for women.

“This is how I financially sustained my family earlier, while today, although my son has a job, me and my daughter-in-law continue to preserve the tradition. We too, in our way, want to contribute to our household economy,” Balaj says.

These women work in coordination, and they sell the costumes to clients who usually come to their homes. Others who are interested in buying these traditional costumes, can buy them in Peja’s market every Saturday. These costumes are available also in the building that used to be a mill, and today, with the permission of municipality of Deҫan, is being used by NGO “Jeta”.

The founder of the NGO “Jeta” in Deҫan, Safete Gacaferri says that the mill, where these items produced by these women are sold, is yet another attractive place for Kosovo citizens and tourists.

“It is very appropriate to promote the work of these women who did not have this chance until now,” the head of “Jeta” association, Safete Gacaferri says.

This organization has 280 members, who exhibit their products, usually handicrafts, for some revenue.

NGO “Jeta” has carried out many activities, with women heads of households benefitting the most:  women from martyrs’ families, households with no head of the family, or women that, for various reasons, could not integrate into society.

Fitore Shala, a sociologist, from Dubovik, a village of municipality of Deçan, the founder of the NGO “Mbroji te Drejtat Tua” (Protect your rights), that deals with the empowerment of youth, says that this is a necessary and very important step towards making these women an active part of the society and provide the wellbeing of the family.

Bern “Neufield” high school students visited the mill and were amazed by the work of these women.

“One of them asked if everything was really hand-made,” Gacaferri tells with pride and a smile on her face.

The tradition of handwork for a lot of women of Deçan, on the one hand is an attempt to preserve the tradition of this part of Kosovo, while on the other hand it is an opportunity to provide some revenue for a decent life.

Since the beginning of this year, out of 138 people employed in the civil service, 107 are men and 32 are women, according to the statistics of the municipality of Deçan. Other sectors also have more men than women employed.

There are more women only in the health sector; with 84 out of a total of 120 employees.

Fjolla Hajrizaj (Photo: Diellza Balaj)

Information technology “infects” libraries in Kosovo, too

With the development of information technology, the interest in traditional libraries is decreasing, whereas the digitalization of libraries, turning books into e-books, promises change.

Although the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and the National Library have signed a memorandum of cooperation to digitalize libraries, such a process has not been implemented yet, also due to the absence of legal ground for digital publications.

Head of the Division for Public Communication in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS), Osman D. Gashi says that, MCYS has allocated 160,000 euros for book publishing, in 2016

The Ministry of Culture is working on the legal infrastructure of digital publication in this phase, whereas digitalization is under the authority of the National Library rather than the MCYS. Thus, there hasn’t been any particular investment from MCYS,” he says.

Munish Hyseni, director of the “Hivzi Sulejmani” Library in Prishtina, speaks of a very considerable increase of membership of readers during this year, especially after they moved into a new, more appropriate building.

In the last three days alone, the 300 available in the library were not sufficient for the 400 visitors. Young readers prevail,” says Hyseni.

Hyseni adds that he hasn’t noticed changes in readership with the development of information technology, internet and social networks. Their readers are usually pupils or students but neither this institution nor Kosovo can escape from being affected.

According to him, the development of the information technology, had a positive impact in the functioning of this library, too. The program “Aleph 500” has helped to electronically catalogue books so that readers can find out whether the book they are searching for is in the library. According to the director, this does represent a big step in the digitalizing process compared to other countries around the world, Kosovo is still way behind. However, after the conversation with the directors of the National Library, he hopes that the process of the digitalization of newspapers, such as daily “Rilindja”, can begin in the near future.

As for the fear that has spread recently that traditional libraries will cease to exist, due to the digitalization and other technological developments, director of the Library, Hyseni, says that he shares views with two remarkable people, as he puts it: Milan Kundera and Umberto Eco.

Kundera has left a sort of a will that prohibits anyone from digitalizing his books, whereas Umberto Eco has said that books need to be touched and smelled” cited Hyseni.

He becomes emotional when speaking about his fear that values can be lost. Hyseni believes that although humanity has come a long way, books and and their traditional preservation will continue.

On each National Book Day, the library announces the best readers, as an incentive for reading.  The Reader of the Year Altina Kasabaqi is not too fond of the idea of the book digitalization, because, as she puts it, books are losing their relevance. Even books that are visualized through movies, fail to portray the story as well as the book.

Fazli Gajraku, director of the National Library “Pjetër Bogdani”, in a meeting with the members of the Committee for Education, Culture, Youth, Sports, Public Administration, Local Government and Media of the Republic of Kosovo Assembly, said that the library is planning to create a joint book catalogue for all libraries in Kosovo. By creating such a catalogue and applying international standards of bibliographic description for all kinds of publications, Kosovo aims to join international organizations like: WorldCat, World Digital Library, etc.

The library digitalization project continues to be a priority on the agenda, furthermore since the signing of the MoU between the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and the National Library, with the objective of digitalizing all print documents of the library, that are part of Kosovo’s culture and knowledge,” claims Gajraku.

Puhiza Bekolli

Forced labour is taking away their childhood

Almost every night, Albion together with his brother of nine, go through Prishtina`s coffee shops to sell chocolates and gain some money. He sometimes hands that money over to his mother, sometimes keeps it for himself,  at least this is what Albion, 10 years old from Vushtrri says. Even though he attends school, he rarely does his homework, since during the time he should be doing his homework, he`s not just far from books but also away from home.

Children such as him, selling or others begging, washing car`s windows, looking everywhere for recyclable materials, can be seen day and night in almost each street and corner of the city.

According to Kosovo Statistics Agency (KSA), 10.7% of the children ages 5-17 are engaged in work, whereas 6.8% of them work in unsafe conditions. Centres for Social Work found that 206 children throughout Kosovo had been involved in hard work 2014.

Samir Shahini, former manager of non-governmental organisation “The Ideas Partnership” says that the greatest number of children who work at an early age are from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community. This relates to many reasons, the main reason being dire economic conditions.

“Over 80% of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families, at least at the locations where our organisation works, are on social assistance. Most of the times this is not sufficient, which makes children as well as their parents to take other measures and send the children to work”, Shahini says.

Valentina Demolli, project manager at Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedom (CDHRF), says that the number of children who beg in the streets of towns, and as a part of the informal sector is on the rise in recent years, although the overall number of children who beg remains undetermined. Also, the number of beggars coming from other countries is increasing by each day, something that CDHRF  considers organized crime, Demolli added.

She says that this institution considers that forcing children for labour is a violation of children`s rights, which is sanctioned by all international conventions for the protection of children`s rights and by Kosovo laws.

Kosovo`s European Union Progress Report, published early November, pointed out the absence of implementation of the legislation for the protection of children`s rights.

The Coalition of the NGO-s for the Protection of Children`s Rights (CNPCR) supports the assertion that the implementation of the law for the protection of children`s rights still remains a challenge.

According to CNPCR, as for the protection of children who are victims of trafficking and violence, the Progress Report recommends that Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) provides adequate financing for shelters for children who are victims of violence and trafficking.

Duties and responsibilities of Kosovo Police regarding the phenomenon of children’s labour, are the identification of the locations where children work and reporting this to Centres for Social Work.

“In the first half of 2016, Kosovo Police has identified about 300 grown up beggars who had families, including their children”, spokesperson of Kosovo Police, Daut Hoxha says for KosovaLive.

Furthermore, he adds that Kosovo Police organizes activities relating to the phenomenon of begging, considered inappropriate for children, aimed at taking these children off the streets, since in every moment they risk involvement in different crimes or becoming victims of trafficking and other purposes.

In a single four-day operation (14-18 November), “Identification of beggar children as victims of trafficking”, Kosovo Police arrested 11 individuals suspected of criminal acts “maltreatment or abandonment of the child”, and identified 36 beggar children, 23 out of which were Kosovars and 13 Albanian citizens.

The Albanians were sent to the respective unit of the Department of Citizenship, Asylum and Migration, whereas 12 legal procedures were initiated against Kosovars for “maltreatment or abandonment of the child”.

The expectation is that this operation, one in a range of numerous activities initiated by Kosovo Police, will be followed by the respective actions of other institutions. This is exactly the recommendation from the 2016 Progress Report for Kosovo, in the context of the implementation of the existing law, and of creating new conditions for children’s forced labour.

Gentiana Maxharraj

Villages, once buzzing with people, are deserted today

Although with quite developed infrastructure, the municipality of Skenderaj, especially after the war of 1999, probably more than other municipalities,  is encountering massive displacement of the population from villages into the town. Municipal officials say that villages also have modern infrastructures and offer decent living conditions, but it appears that people are not content with the rural life and seek a better life in the town.

The countryside was once a place for large families that lived in harmony, and everyone worked equally for the wellbeing of the household. With time, this has changed and villages have become dwellings of families with fewer members and not much involvement in agriculture.

Sevdije Zabeli who lived in the village of Rezallë, was involved in milking cows and milk production, but since she moved to the town (Fushë Kosovë), 13 years ago, she has stopped with these activities. She says that the rural life was more dynamic and she had more engagement, apart from taking care of her kids, and running other usual household errands. Since she moved to the town, she has more time for her kids and has no other responsibilities.

Sofie Zabeli (common second name in the same village) shares the same view: her family members who live in the town have an easier life because they don’t need specific transportation, since they are close to downtown, schools and groceries.

“A lot of things are different in the town. My kids can play in the playgrounds of the shopping malls while I do my shopping, knowing that my kids are nearby. I couldn’t do this living in the village because I needed a car to get around, have my kids with when going to groceries, or find someone to look after them until I returned,” says Sofia.

Vlora also had drastic changes in her way of living. She started studying in the Faculty of Education when she moved to the city, and after graduating got a job as a teacher in Fushë Kosova. If she had stayed in the village, she says, she wouldn’t have been able to finish her studies, let alone find a job.

Shehide Fazliu, who decided to leave village of Kotorr together with her family, says that life in the country is hard: kids have to walk to school, there are no grocery stores in the village, and the boys have to travel every day to work. They all decided to leave the village together, hoping for less living expenses, while the kids also prefer the town.

According to the most recent population census of the Skenderaj municipality in 2011, around 86.69% of the population lives in villages, whereas 13.31 live in towns. While lacking updated data, Nazmi Istogu from the Office of the Cadaster of the Skenderaj municipality says that from 2011 they have seen massive displacement of population towards the town, adding that numerous apartment complexes were built since, and are being populated by each day.

According to the most recent Kosovo Statistics Agency publication, that also covers internal population movements (from one municipality to another) 8,972 families moved from villages to towns last year only.

Liridona Berisha

Kosovars are gradually becoming aware of bio foods

The interest for healthy food is increasing continually and this primarily because people are becoming aware of health benefits.

“If I compare people and their food needs 4 years ago, there are drastic changes. Starting from the requests I continually receive on my webpage on the things people want to know about bio products”, nutritionist Diola Dosti Baftiu says.

For three years now there is a rare department in Kosovo, for food safety and diets in a high school in Ferizaj. The pupils of this department, along with their head-teacher, are planning to open a store with healthy foods within the school premises. Apart from the fact that the store would be welcomed by many citizens, the money collected by selling these products would be used by the pupils.

The plan for the store carrying bio foods cannot be realized yet since the school is still waiting for the permission from the municipality. Until now, the only way pupils can impact the society is through advising them on the benefits of healthy food.

“The curriculum is drafted in the way that each classroom makes an impact in the locations where they intern. The internship is held in hospitals` cafeteria, in kindergarten, private restaurants, where pupils give advise on the appropriate food for each age-group”, Brilantina Berisha says.

Alongside the interest, consumers also voice their concerns: the double price of these foods, low quality are some of those. Due to the lack of awareness campaigns, neither consumers nor the producers have sufficient information of the meaning of “bio” product.

“The production and the offer of bio food still has inadequate social attention. Those minimal products have a small number of consumers, analogically proportional”, Selatin Kaçaniku from Consumers` Association confirms.

Kaçaniku says that even though there`s dissatisfaction, local institutions are unresponsive to the concerns and complaints of the citizens.

“This is proven by the small number of inspectors as well. For this reason it`s impossible to achieve the expected results to the satisfaction of the consumers”.

Lamir Thaçi, spokesman of Food and Veterinary Agency of Kosovo (FVAK), says that our country complies with CEFTA-s rules.

Besides food quality regulations, there is also a law that sanctions FVAK for not fulfilling its responsibilities.

“Regardless, whoever doubts or shows dissatisfaction regarding the fact that these laws are not being implemented, there are other institutions that can take measures against each and everyone. Administrative Instruction nr. 17/2008, is implemented since 2008”, Thaçi said.

Regardless of all the existing problems, Diola Dosti Baftiu, a successful woman from Albania, who now lives and works in Kosovo, is trying to raise awareness of healthy food among citizens. Through her webpage she managed to convince many people with her advice. She is very optimistic, adding that we have so many possibilities of having a bio market that we could supply other countries such as Switzerland and Germany.

Even though there are many possibilities for this market, the number of stores with bio food is insufficient.

According to her, the main reason why we should pay attention to our food is the to increase our immune system.

Xhenete Hasani