Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear friends,
we greet you warmly from Kosovo with our first letter to our friend this year.

The “political situation”

Although the political situation between Serbia and Kosovo is not relaxed at the moment, it is not as tense as it was after the terrorist attack in September. We have learned to live with the conflicts and tensions, but many of our clients/patients are suffering greatly and experiencing re-traumatisation.

The ringleader of the terrorist attack, Milan Radoičić, is living unmolested in Serbia; he was released from custody very quickly after his arrest.

At the end of February, the former mayor of North Mitrovica wanted to welcome him to Serbia. Radoičić struck him down with a punch to greet him. His justification was that “they were not following the orders of Serbian President Vucic”.

But anyone who thinks that’s all there is to it, is mistaken.

The euro has been the official currency in Kosovo since 2002. The Serbian dinar was/is the currency only in North Mitrovica and the municipalities in the north, where mainly Serbs live. Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, has now decided that from 1 February 2024, the euro will be the only official currency in the entire country. As the vast majority of Serbs in Kosovo receive their pensions or salaries from Serbia (dinar), there were again protests.

The talk was: “We don’t get any more money, how are we supposed to live now”. Kosovo customs quickly confiscated 4 million dinars at the border. Now there is a “solution” with a three-month transitional period.

However, the cause of all conflicts is different. As long as Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as a state, all conflicts, demonstrations and fights are not the cause, but a consequence of the insecure status quo.

The Diakonie Training Center (DTC)

We are now a proud 24 years young and will be celebrating our quarter of a century in the next year.

The DTC started the first course of the 24th year on 17.01.24. We currently have 88 trainees, including those training to become assistant chefs. The numbers have generally decreased in Kosovo. Too many have gone to Germany in recent years and now that the visa requirement has been lifted. More and more companies are now looking for skilled labour. Tradespeople in particular are in demand.

The farm

I had just started to write something about the farm. Then Xhavit, the manager, came to me and said that the tractor was broken. An important connecting piece between the front and rear wheels is broken, the tractor has four-wheel drive. This year, the tractor has 49 years on its hump/wheels. Despite this German workmanship, it has been ploughed and worked with mightily. The right spare part has to be ordered in Germany. That will probably take 2-3 months. Important work cannot be done without a tractor.

The Waldensian Church in Italy with the “Otto per Mille” (8 Promille) programme is also supporting us this year. We visited the headquarters of “Otto per Mille” in Rome last year and had very good and constructive discussions.

We are still working on the transformation from a non-governmental organisation/NGO to a social enterprise. We have a meeting with the mayor regarding this soon. If we are a social enterprise (we can be better supported by the Ministry of Agriculture).

We need to buy a new goat soon to avoid inbreeding.

We currently have 135 goats and 33 kids have been born, with many more to follow.

We have goat’s cheese again for about a week now. We have never had it this early before

Bavarian State Office for Asylum and Repatriation

We have been running a collaborative project for a safe and dignified return/reintegration to Kosovo for 5 years now.

Several times a year, aeroplanes arrive in Prishtina with returnees. Very often these are returnees who have committed criminal offences.

With our experience in return and reintegration work since 2007, we can help all those who are ready for reintegration.

The last project period expired on the 29th of February 2024. We have now submitted an application to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees for funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Processing and approval takes approx. 6-8 months.

The Bavarian State Office for Asylum and Repatriation has now approved a permit to bridge the period from 1st March to the end of August. We would like to thank those responsible in Munich for this authorisation and the excellent cooperation.

Bread for the World

Bread for the World/Berlin has been supporting our Diakonie Training Centre and the Diakonie Youth Centre for many years. It is a very good and peaceful co-operation.

With the support of BftW, we were able to install 192 photovoltaic panels on 2 roofs. On good days (lots of light) we currently produce around 130 kwh/ that means 50 to 55 % of our daily needs. We are a good example in Mitrovica and use renewable energy.

More and more citizens from the neighbourhood and officials are interested in this environmental contribution.

BftW has also authorised the construction of a new building/extension. While the shell of the building is still being completed, our teachers are now working with students in the building and installing the electrics, sanitary facilities and underfloor heating. This allows our students to learn and work under real conditions.
  After completion, the entire kindergarten will move into the new building. The children and teachers are already looking toward to it.

We collect and let plastic bottles collected

Kosovo is a very beautiful country, but unfortunately there is a lot of rubbish lying around everywhere. Environmental awareness needs to grow.

A lot of drinks are in plastic bottles, unfortunately without a deposit. There is currently a deposit of 18 cents per kilogramme. We have been collecting bottles for years and the Swiss KFOR soldiers also collect for us. They live in a so-called “field house” in the Bosnian neighbourhood and bring the bottles to us every week. Thank you very much!

In this way we make a small contribution to environmental protection and last year we raised 332 €


We have had a very good and close partnership with the Protestant parish of Hilgen-Neuenhausen in the Bergisches Land region for many years. There are mutual visits, a youth exchange programme and both the parish and the church district provide a great deal of financial support.
We received a donation for the 10th birthday of the youth centre and the waffle iron is now up and running. The waffles (see photo) are flavourful, wonderful and simply delicious. A great gift. We will be using it at various festivals, especially the Christmas market

The Couple Marianne and Emil Lux have been supporting humanitarian organisations for many years. In 2004, they founded the non-profit “Marianne and Emil Lux Foundation”.

We received 2000€ from the foundation for our work in the Roma-Ashkali and Egyptian neighbourhoods in Fushë Kosova. Thank you very much!

On the 25th of January we had the 1st examination of the training candidates in the kitchen, 9 young men and women had to prepare a 3-course menu.

The examination committee included the German Ambassador, Mr. Jörn Rohde, the French Ambassador, Mr. Olivier Guérot, Prof. Sadik Maqedonci from the University of Prishtina, as well as the Caritas Director, Mr. Alfred Pjetri, and two representatives of the Diakonie.

All the trainees cooked excellent dishes, from traditional to German home cooking, and passed the exam.

After I (Bernd Baumgarten) had tasted all the soups, salads, main courses and desserts (9×3), I had an aching stomach. Dinner was cancelled.

The Managing Director of Adler Managment-Agentur (AM), Mr. Marco Bünger, and his business partners have been visiting us for several years. AM places trainees and nursing staff in hospitals in Berlin and Brandenburg. Mr. Bünger is a friend and supporter of our work. For each trainee, he gives 300 € from the placement bonus to Diakonie Kosova to support our work. So we got 1.500,00 € for 5 placed candidates. We live in Kosovo from donations from Germany and such help is remarkable! Thank you!

In November, many individual donors, church congregations with collections and friends supported our work in Kosovo. We could not help here without you. We thank you and wish you God’s rich blessing.

The staff of Diakonie Kosova and the Diakonie Training Centre.

Yours, Bernd Baumgarten

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *