Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.

The political situation

The relationship between Kosovo and Serbia is currently simmering on a low flame. We notice that things are ‘’somewhat relaxed‘’ mainly because the Serbian therapists from North Mitrovica regularly come to the training and supervision days. As soon as tensions rise, when there are attacks or even just demonstrations, the Serbian participants are afraid and don’t come.

Kosovo has wanted to become a member of the Council of Europe for years. Following a favourable recommendation from Strasbourg, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was supposed to take a final vote. This failed due to the objection of Germany, which has been calling for the establishment of the Serbian Federation of Municipalities for years, as demanded by the EU. Naturally, Serbian President Vucic was also against it. He had the border crossings stopped. Kosovars, some with small children, waited up to 18 hours for passport clearance and entry.

The mayor of our town (Mitrovicë) has been selected by his party (Democratic Party of Kosovo/PDK) as the leading candidate for the office of Prime Minister.

The Diakonie Training Center

We have now been operating as a training centre in Mitrovica and the surrounding area for almost 24 years.

First as the German Training Centre, and since 2010 as the Diakonie Training Centre/DTC. Our trainees come from Mitrovica, the neighbouring villages and the towns of Skenderaj and Vushtrri. One of our strengths is our focus on practical training, on skills that the labour market is looking for. Companies in our neighbourhood are very happy to take on our students, as they have good basic practical skills.

Many of them are now also working in various European countries. A young hairdresser went from Mitrovica to Miami (from M to M). His family has a hairdressing salon there. He did his training in our salon and then went to America.

We are currently experiencing a special phenomenon in the training of hairdressers. For the first time, we have more men than women in the training class for women’s hairdressers. All these years we have had no young men on the courses, or at most two. It’s nice to see how times are changing.

We are also preparing new courses in mobile phone repair and environmental technology (photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, heat pumps, etc.).

Return and reintegration counselling

We have been running this important project together with the ‘Bavarian State Office for Asylum and Repatriation’ for 6 years.

We help returnees from Bavaria with the initial contact at the airport and the entire reintegration process. As a rule, returnees do not have a vocational qualification or experience in a particular trade. This means that an apprenticeship or training is usually the first step towards gaining a foothold in the Kosovan labour market.

Returnees get a kitchen cooker

As the returnees have usually been in Germany for a long time, they lack many things: housing, furniture, clothing, medication, the list is long!

With our diverse services (training centre, social workers, psychologists, family doctor) we can offer everything from a single source.

At the beginning of the year, we submitted an application to the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Unfortunately, an important certificate from the Kosovan state is still missing. Unfortunately, as so often, we had to ask the German Embassy to obtain this necessary certificate.

In the meantime, the Bavarian State Office for Asylum and Repatriation is financing this important work until the AMIF application is approved.

We would like to thank the responsible state office and its employees for their good co-operation and support.

The farm and Otto per Mille/ Rome

For years, we have been supported by the sisters and brothers of the Waldensian Church (Chiesa Evangelica Valdese) and the ‘Otto per Mille’ (8 per thousand) programme. Without this help, our farm, which currently provides 8 jobs for people with disabilities, could not continue to operate.

With the help of the ‘Otto per Mille’ programme, we have now been able to buy a new bus (Renault) to transport the employees. The old bus was at the end of its useful life and the breakdowns and repairs were becoming more frequent.

We would like to thank the brothers and sisters of the Waldensian Church and ‘Otto per Mille’ from ♥!

Another very important partner is the ‘Rheinische Landeskirche’ with its headquarters, Landeskirchenamt, in Düsseldorf. We receive funds from a regional church collection. This enables us to employ and pay our colleagues who experience a lot of marginalisation due to their disabilities.Ohne diese Hilfe könnte unser Bauernhof, der zur Zeit 8 Arbeitsplätze für Menschen mit Behinderungen vorhält, nicht weiterarbeiten.
the new bus for the farm

It is a great help and gives us strength and courage to continue our work that we receive so much help from the Rhenish regional church.

In April, senior expert Eberhard Westhauser visited our farm as a counsellor and helper.

He gave very important new impulses. For example, we had to part with our long-time head goat, the father of countless kids, in order to avoid inbreeding. The senior expert also advised us on various reorganisations, the planting of the greenhouse and the treatment of sick goats. With his help, we were also able to buy two small billy goats (fresh blood).

Goat happy, Ali happy, Diakonie happy

On 9th May, together with the senior expert, Annelie Päschke, the volunteers (Rasmus, Flory and Diellza) and the psychologist, Leonita Shabani) Ali and his new acquisition (a second-hand copper still). He professionally explained the production of schnapps and liqueurs. We were also able to sample his products over a first-class lunch. Thank you very much!
The ‚new‘ boiler  /  Who has the longer beard?

The district office of Diakonie in Fushë Kosova/Amselfeld

It is true when I say that I am happy that we have a neighbourhood office in the largest Roma-Ashkali-Egyptian neighbourhood in Fushë Kosova. We have been working there for 4 years with counselling, trauma therapy, child and youth work and, above all, twice a week with our family doctor. Our doctor, Dr Sami Kurti, is able to dispense medication there free of charge, which we finance through very loyal donors in Germany.

The poverty there is very high, the living conditions are precarious and there is a lot of domestic violence. This makes our help from specialists all the more important, especially for children, young people and women. We have converted a small shop there into a counselling centre. In order to be able to provide better and more intensive help, we have been looking for a suitable building site for some time. It must be centrally located in the neighbourhood so that children, older people and visitors with disabilities can easily reach it on foot. As is so often the case in Kosovo, some auditions for building land turned out to be unrealisable. Following an appeal from us, many donors, organisations from Germany, provided us with funds for a new building:

After many discussions and consultations, we have now come to the decision to buy an existing building and, if necessary, convert it accordingly. This would allow us to offer our consulting services very centrally, in the middle of the two neighbourhoods (Quater 28/ Quarter 29, as they are called). One building is quite attractive, but the price is not right. The seller wants €75,000.00, but we only have around €50,000.00. We also need around €15,000 to install a heating system and for necessary repairs. We can carry out the renovations with our own employees/teachers. We only need to buy the materials.

We would be very happy if you could help us with a donation for the purchase of the house.

The Youth Center

Our youth centre is divided into two areas. The open youth work (‘Offene Tür/OT’ in German) as a low threshold offer and the course and training programmes on the first floor. You have to register for the latter and pay a participation fee. In Kosovo, too, what costs nothing is worth nothing.

Now you may be wondering why this course is so popular.

I would like to give you a few reasons.

In Kosovo, girls and women attach great importance to their outfit, make-up, hair and nails. It costs €12 to have your nails done. A nail salon can serve around 10 clients a day, sometimes more. With an income of around €120, this means a profit of around €70. Since in Kosovo I, self-employed business is worked 6 days, this means: 6 × 70 × 4 = 1680 € per month. Police officers now earn approx. 550 €. The course here lasts 6 weeks, so you reach your goal very quickly. Ergo, as long as the boom continues, young women can earn a living very quickly in this field.

Last year (September/October) we had Mr Wolfgang Kuhn, a senior expert, as a consultant and trainer at the youth centre. He advised the team, worked on group dynamics and taught new approaches to youth work. The team learnt a lot. We have also adjusted the age limits for visitors. Now visitors can come to the centre from the age of 10 to 24. Many younger visitors in particular make great use of this offer.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Senior Expert Service in Bonn. The things we and the various teams can learn from the experts, who currently have forty years of practical experience, are enormous.

On Thursday, 23 May, we were visited by the responsible consultant from the Senior Expert Service, Ms Halyna Mykhalchuk, who is responsible for Kosovo. She informed us about the different areas of work, the experts’ fields of work and we talked about further cooperation. As we had two experts working with us, Dr Dieter Stein from the Psychosocial Centre for Trauma Therapy and Ms Annelie Päschke, a Montessori teacher, Ms Mykhalchuk from Bonn was also able to meet these experts. There was a lively exchange over lunch.

So I can only renew our motto: ‘We love SES!’

Various things

The Deputy Commander of the Kosovo Force/KFOR, Deputy Commander Brigadier General Federico Bernacca and the Commander of the German contingent, Colonel Sascha Mies, visited us last week. They visited the Diakonie Training Center (DTC) and the kindergarten, where they were able to talk to the Montessori teacher and find out about trauma therapy at the psychosocial center. In the afternoon, they went to the youth center, where the new dance teacher, Mr Zuhdi Beqiri, had prepared a dance performance for his group.

As part of the ‘Days of the German Language’, the German embassy invited a choir (Singkreis Forstern) from Bavaria. Together with pupils from the Loyola Gymnasium in Prizren, they gave a wonderful concert in the pedestrian zone.

Afterwards, we invited everyone to the youth centre for dinner with traditional food (burek).

From the 20th to the 26th of April, Dr Sami Kurti and I were in Trier with a delegation from the Ministry of Justice and the Mayor of Mitrovica, Mr Bedri Hamza.

The main focus was on cooperation between the state and welfare organisations, the state and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This co-operation does not yet work so well in Kosovo.

We visited the youth welfare office of the city of Trier. An employee used a PowerPoint presentation to explain the cooperation between the state/youth welfare office and independent organisations (NGOs).

We visited a reception centre with almost 800 residents in Hunsrück. The focus here was on the care of refugees, but also on the cooperation described above. Diakonie maintains a counselling office in the reception centre.

There was a visit to the Diakonisches Werk and the crowning finale was a meeting with the Lord Mayor of Trier, Mr Wolfram Leibe.

Together with the mayor of Mitrovica, we invited the mayor of Trier to Kosovo. He agreed to a visit.

Planting trees to offset CO2 emissions
We have had a very good relationship with Adler Management in Berlin and its managing director Mr Marco Bünger for many years. He visits us very often and supports our work financially. As he and his business partners often have to fly, he has runs trees to plant to compensate for the CO2 emissions. He gave us money to plant 30 trees. More than 30 trees have now been planted on the farm, on the grounds of the Diakonie Training Centre and at the youth centre. Many thanks for the support!

The Kosovan Ministry of Justice awards grants to licensed social organisations in Kosovo. We applied for support for our Psychosocial Centre for Trauma Therapy (PSZ) in the spring. We have now received approval for €20,000.00. It is the first time that we have received such a high level of funding from this ministry.

On 29 May, the Minister of Justice, Mrs Albulena Haxhiu, State Secretary Anita Kalanderi and the political advisor, Mrs Vlora Limani Hajnuni, visited us to get to know the diverse fields of work of Diakonie. After the tour of the Diakonie Training Centre, we had lunch together in the training kitchen.

The delegation then visited the PSZ and we were able to present the full range of our work:

  • Trauma therapy
  • Training as a trauma therapist (3 years)
  •  Medical counselling and therapy
  • Free distribution of medication to Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians

We then visited the farm/workplace for people with disabilities. The Minister was delighted with the diverse areas of work and the high quality of our social work and support.

Many thanks to all co-operation partners, all donors and all those who help and support us!

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