When I was in Kosova in 2003, all I could feel was sympathy and empathy, for both sides, all the victims of a corrupt situation. Every one we met seemed to be a beautiful soul who had suffered but was trying to put together the pieces, and living as best they could.
This time, a longer stay, I saw glimpses of illogical and irrational people – even those who would speak of reconciliation in one sentence, and the next denigrate “those people” and talk about how they have seen “what they’re capable of.” What had changed in two years? The people, or my understanding of the situation?
Part of me wanted to give up. But a bigger part of me thinks about the little girls skipping down the street, holding hands and whispering and giggling. Or the day I saw Agron’s little girl Denisa outside the house with her brothers. Denisa, petite for her 6 years, has bright brown eyes that take up most of her face. They lit up when she recognized me. Just like the grown ups, she gripped my hand tightly, pulled me down to her height and overwhelmed me with energetic kisses on both cheeks.
The night Denisa received her Christmas box from Samaritans Purse, she wisely chose the biggest package, and shrieked in excitement as she pulled out each toy from the box. Denisa didn’t make a move that night without lugging the box along, almost half her size. Her father told us later that she slept with box cuddled under her arm like a teddy bear.
There is hope - in Denisa and kids all around Kosova. Whether for peace and reconciliation or rampant consumerism, I'm not sure. But I'm counting on the former.