Sustaining Communities In The Balkans
|Volume 17, No. 2||Spring 2014|
Fifteen years after NATO bombings and many ensuing conflicts in Kosovo, poverty and isolation continue to be a challenge for the more than 100,000 people who make up the region's non-majority communities. IOCC has maintained a humanitarian presence in the region since 1998, and is continuing its work through a new initiative to help these vulnerable families improve their farming techniques, raise their household incomes, and improve the learning environment for their children.
Kosovo is mainly a rural area, with about two-thirds of the population living in villages. Most are small-scale farmers trying to eke out a living with limited farm equipment and an often unreliable water supply. Working with the Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese of Raska and Prizren, and Visoki Decani Monastery, IOCC is helping local farmers extend their growing season by providing support for the production of greenhouses, and the digging of new wells to improve access to water.
The education system in Kosovo is also seriously limited by a lack of adequate facilities and qualified teaching staff for primary and secondary students. The fifty children who attend the primary school in Osojane live in the surrounding villages, with some traveling many miles to and from school on foot. Without regular jobs, most of the parents don't have the necessary financial means to provide a hot meal for their children. IOCC is providing assistance to the school kitchen to ensure that each day, the children will have a hot, nutritious lunch.
This humanitarian initiative in Kosovo is provided through the generous support of a $50,000 matching grant from the George and Judy Marcus Foundation, which has pledged to match contributions to IOCC for its efforts to assist people living in non-majority enclaves in remote areas of Kosovo.