Macedonian Embassy in Prishtina, Kosovo
Friday, June 22, we traveled to Prishtina, Kosovo, to get another document (an entry visa -- which you only have to have to apply for a work visa -- not for entry into Macedonia) from the Macedonian Embassy in Kosovo. This stamp will allow us to apply tomorrow (Monday, June 25) for our work visa (the same visa we have been issued every year since 1998). The procedure has changed, so we are trying to follow the correct procedure. The problem is that I think it is like "changing the tire on a car while the car is moving". They know what procedure they want you to follow to get the work visa, but they do not know what that procedure looks like until we go through it first. We all think that we are the first ones that have gone through this new procedure since it was initiated. Therein lies the problem. Tomorrow morning we will see if we have everything this time to begin the process to actually getting the visa in our passports. HA!
All of the previous was just an explanation of why we went to Kosovo. This is the rest of the story.
We were absolutely amazed at the progress that has been made. I know that 8 years is a long time -- but not when you consider what the Kosovar Albanians faced when they returned to their homeland in June 1999. They returned to the destruction of their homes, the death of SO many family members, the land mines hidden everywhere, their land burned and crops destroyed, a season without planting, and so very, little hope for the future.
They have picked themselves up (yes, with much help from the outside world, for sure) and carried on in the face of insurmountable odds. What fortitude these Kosovar refugees had! This strength took them through 8 years of rebuilding their lives and making a better place for their families.
Mary Beth & Agim with Two Albanian Men in Traditional Costume
It was a very emotional day as we walked through the same streets as we did 8 years ago. We recalled, in conversations throughout the day, the villages we had worked in and the people we had met. We remembered the old man who sat in the refugee camp with his wife. He was in tears because at the border into Macedonia, his shoelaces had been removed from his shoes so as to make it more difficult for him to walk. We remembered the faces of the children who found joy in having school in a tent so that they would not miss out on months of education before they could return to Kosovo. We remembered the village of women who received tractors in order to grow their own food in a co-op garden (all the men of the village had been killed).
We remembered the loss of lives as we toured the memorial cemetery near the border of Kosovo and Macedonia. We remembered as we walked through and read each name out loud --- how could you read just a few??? We remembered.
So this was a day for remembering, but also a day for rejoicing. Rejoicing in life, in smiles, in hospitality, and in greetings given so freely.
We rejoiced in the cool interior of a cave that Agim took us to --- well, maybe we didn't rejoice so much when the lights went out after we were already inside the cave. We groped our way out of the darkness back to the entrance where we learned that this sort of thing happens all the time. That is when Arville went to the car and got a flashlight. HA! We went back in the cave and completed the tour. It was a diversion from all that we had seen and remembered.
There is "a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing"--- and we did both in just one day in Kosovo.