© 2002 Friends of Bosnia  

The Future
Kosovo’s population is the youngest in Europe. Half of the people are below the age of 20. Children work on farms, sell goods on the streets, wave at KFOR soldiers, and flock around international photographers. Young boys are treated like kings on the day of their circumcision and wheeled around town in traditional costumes, riding in convertible cars. Teenagers hang out in internet cafés, restaurants and coffee shops or go out walking in Dardanija square or the main marketplace. They attend schools, when they are open.

When we arrived in Pristina in early January 2000, Kosovo was a cold and bleak place. But this hardly stopped the youth from finding a reason to party and celebrate. At that time, the city was awash in celebrations for Bajram—the end of the month of fasting in the Islamic calendar. This was a particularly festive Bajram because it was the first in many years to be celebrated under freedom. Thousands of Kosovar Albanians returned from around the world to celebrate with family members still living in Kosovo.

The children of Kosovo have witnessed horrible atrocities that will linger in their memories forever. They have been uprooted from their homes. Many have lost family members, or worse, have seen them die. They have lost trust. The Center for Human Rights in Peja is teaching secondary school students about basic human rights principles and tolerance. It is up to the international community to ensure the growth and prosperity of the youth, for they are the future and the hope of Kosovo. But when we mentioned to our translator that all these young people represent the new Kosovo, he retorted, “Without jobs, they will all become criminals.”




Above: Teens at a Bajram celebration in Pristina.
1) Kids in Racak.
2) A boy in the fields near Kamenica.
3) Child at Mother Theresa Society in Pristina waiting for humanitarian aid.