Growing old alone - Kosovo 2.0
In-depth | Society

Growing old alone

K2.0 spent the day at Prishtina’s elderly people’s home.

By , Xhorxhina Bami - 09.05.2019

The elderly people’s home in Prishtina, like other similar institutions around Kosovo, only accepts people who don’t have family care. There are currently 70 people at the home in the capital city: 39 women and 31 men. It has the capacity to accept up to 100 people.

The main requirement for admission is for the elderly people to be over 65 years old and not to have children. However, the home’s authorities explain that even those who have only daughters can get accepted; this is due to the fact that the majority of girls in Kosovo don’t inherit property and as a result they don’t have a house in their name.

Referrals are made mainly by the Municipality of Prishtina’s Centers for Social Work.

“I was married for 42 years. I didn’t have children. My husband died and I lived with some of my relatives. They took care of me for 10 years. They all moved into their own houses with their own families. They invite me as a guest from time to time. I miss my youth. When I was younger, I used to sew a lot, but I don't have much strength now. I have sewed around 20 pairs of socks and mittens.”

– Nefise Batatina

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare finances the elderly people’s home with supplies, clothes, food and fuel. Through the years, different donors have helped the Prishtina home in various forms, including furnishing it with small tables and mini kitchens.

The home’s director for the past 14 years, Raze Aliqkaj, says that the services and the infrastructure are continuously getting better. She takes last winter’s introduction of heating pellets as an example, saying that it is the most favorable fuel for the environment.

The home also has 24-hour socializing services including work therapy, literacy learning, reading books, watching movies or programs, painting, drawing and various games.

“All my life I’ve wanted to learn how to read and write. All my relatives are educated, but when it came to me they told me, ‘There’s no need for you to go to school, you will get married.’ I started to learn the alphabet and the language pretty late. If I’d known them earlier maybe I would have benefited from them and I would have achieved something in my life.”

– Hata Uka.

Idriz Krasniqi has spent most of his life in Croatia, away from his homeland of Kosovo. He moved to Croatia in 1963 and lived there for 55 years until he came back to spend his final years in Kosovo. His wife died about 20 years ago, during the Kosovo war. Later, he lost his only son.

At first, Idrizi lived in an elderly people’s home in Croatia. But his greatest wish was to come back and die in his country, so he went to the Embassy of Kosovo in Croatia and asked for help to return to Kosovo.

“I told them, ‘I want to go back to my home country and die in Kosovo,’” he says.

Idrizi has been living at the elderly people’s home in Prishtina since February this year. He has received visits from relatives that he hadn’t seen in a long time, such as his grandson who visits him almost every day.

“Because the majority of them don’t have biological children or someone to take care of them, the residents have more emotional emptiness that they express more now in their old age. We try to make that emotional emptiness a bit easier because it is a bit difficult to fill it completely. In any case, we try to make them feel better, calmer and also supported and still useful to society. When I stay with them, they feel better, and express themselves more easily and feel happier. We are a big family trying to support each other in every way.”

– Raze Aliqkaj, director of the home

Feature image: Besarta Breznica / K2.0.K