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We never leave each other behind

By - 29.06.2023

It’s easy to complain, but what about the good things in Kosovo?

If you want to find reasons to leave Kosovo, there are plenty. To be honest, it doesn’t even need much thought. Right now I could list at least 10 reasons why I would like to leave here.

But I also have reasons that make me want to stay.

Before I started writing this article, I decided to ask my friends and colleagues what they don’t like about our country. I expected that, just like me, they would have a long list of problems: the weak economy, the average standard of education, the few opportunities for development, problems with the justice system, corruption, nepotism and more.

And what made me feel very sad was the reaction I got when I asked them about the good things in our country. They couldn’t think of many. They were silent. Many of them took several minutes to think and still did not have an answer. I know that we have a lot to complain about and many things that make us want to leave. But I still think there are good things that make people stay. At least there should be. Yet the answers I received did not give me much hope.

We don’t have a strong justice system, economy or education, but don’t other countries have similar problems? Many other countries that had such problems have also had citizen-led initiatives that have been able to change the system. When something goes wrong, people organize themselves in protests and marches until they achieve their goal.

In our country? The biggest miracle lasts three days. Then it is forgotten.

Among the other things that my friends have mentioned to me is this: we are a collective society, the sense of community we find here is rarely found anywhere else. But when it comes to changing things, we become individuals. In cases where we have the opportunity to do something for the collective good, it seems to me that most people act in self interest.

Here is an example: I come from the beautiful city of Peja and the mountains have a rare majesty. Then I look at the river and the garbage alongside it. Some rightfully blame the municipality and the trash companies. But we also have to point the finger at ourselves — we are the ones who throw garbage all over the place and then wait for someone else to come and clean it up.

It is important to remind people our failure to make sustainable decisions results in the creation of systems that do not respond to our needs as citizens. Even in cases where there are protests or movements for change, very few of us become active in them, particularly if the issue does not affect us on a personal level. Yet if we don’t get involved, the issue will reach us and we will need the help of others.

Now I have started to complain just like my colleagues do.

Let’s change the direction of this article a little

My intention was to write about the things that keep me where I am.

I was lucky enough to travel to a foreign country when I was a teenager and I saw first-hand what life is like there. Seeing a different culture and energy close-up was an unforgettable and very important experience for my development. It also helped broaden my horizons. I believe that this exposure also meant that I no longer believed that the moment I leave Kosovo, all my problems would disappear.

Our country has many interesting things. For example, there are few places where you can find not just good coffee, but very good coffee — one that wakes you up with just its smell. Here we don’t just have our favorite cafe, but also waiters who memorize your order and bring it as soon as you sit down. Or you just make a sign with your hand and they know what you are ordering.

Here, we enjoy coffee differently, because we are together with colleagues, friends, and family. It’s not just the coffee, it’s the process — the peace that comes from being with your people. We really enjoy that process, before we start mentioning all the negative things that we face every day.

We are a society where closeness is powerful. While it is quite normal to live with a family, even when we live alone, we are still close to each other. When we are in a difficult situation, we have someone close to help us. It is also common for family members to support us financially until we find another job. It is also normal for your friends to support you, not to leave you on the street until you find a place that’s safe. We do not leave each other behind.

To be honest, we help each other in the store, on the bus, on the street. Even people we don’t know, we have a strong desire to help them, regardless of who they are.

Oh, and to not forget the culture of conversation. A few months ago it was the month of Ramadan. I remember the hot samuna (that in Prishtina I should call pitalka in order to be understood). Samuna you can find elsewhere, but you won’t find the local bakery where you know all the employees and wait in line with your neighbors and talk with them until it’s your turn.

From samuna let’s turn to art and reflect on the limited attention we give to it. As a society, we have forgotten the feeling that theater and cinema give. We have forgotten that art is a part of life that keeps our soul alive. We have forgotten its value and often we pay attention to everything else except art. But recently I have noticed a revival of theater and film, opera and ballet. I see how many talented people there are and how many emotions they are able to bring to life.

Let me ask you something, have you ever tried going to the theater by yourself? If not, do it now!

I have a lot of desires and one time I’ll try to live in a different country. I have a strong urge to start a new life in a place where no one knows me. But this is a different thought from that of leaving Kosovo.

All these are little moments, I know, but they fill you with love. I try to be more attentive to these little moments, appreciate them and try to recreate them. I want to find good reasons to stay here, so if I ever leave, I have reasons to come back to my nest.

Feature Image: Atdhe Mulla through MidJourney

This blog was published with the financial support of the European Union as part of the project “Diversifying voices in journalism.” Its contents are the sole responsibility of Kosovo 2.0 and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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