Living in a community where women are often treated with disregard, you realize you have to do something to change that. In Kosova we lack on supporting women in different fields, but that never means that this won’t change. There is always room for change and it often starts with one person. There was this quote I read once, saying “Don’t expect to see a change, if you don’t make one”. There are organizations in my community which work for women’s rights and advocate for women in general but this is not enough. We can not only wait for different organizations to do their work, we also need to do ours. This made me think about what I want to do to change my community for the better.
As a feminist, I am moved by women’s issues and domestic violence is one of them. In Gjakova, Kosovo there is a place where women victims of domestic violence are sheltered; this place is called “The Safe House”. The place itself is run by a woman and there is a tremendous job done to keep the violence survivors and their children safe. These women stay and eat at this house but also seek for jobs, so they can get their lives back. For some of them it’s hard to get a job, or even try to start their life from zero, so they stay at the house longer. Since many women and children are inhabitants of the safe house, more money is needed to cover their needs and that is quite hard to get.
Kosova is known for not being at its best financial states, but the good thing is that this never stops people from helping the less fortunate than us. Whenever it comes to donating or helping someone poor or sick, people all stand together for that person.
This time we (YES Alumni Kosova) decided to make the process of donating more fun. Between February 18th and 20th we decided to hold a bake sale, in my town, Gjakova, which we called “Sweetness for Charity”. During these three days we sold many different desserts, tea and coffee. Initially the desserts were planned to be baked by the alumni, but the event got so much attention from media that everyone who heard about it, wanted to help us by baking something. It was amazing that so many people got together to collect money for the Safe House. Women were baking, youth volunteered to help sell the sweets, TVs and Radio Stations were really interested to cover the event, the tent was donated etc. Being able to bring all these people together proved to me that unity is strength. For three days I got to witness the generosity of people in my community. There were people who stopped by to ask if we needed help, some who didn’t buy anything just donated money, some just wanted to congratulate us for our initiative. There is one particular case that I remember. One of the Alumni, Mjellma YES’13 , who was one of the key organizers of the project, was hanging out with her friends at the café when this one man recognized her from our TV appearance to promote “Sweetness for Charity”. He told her that he really liked our initiative and he wanted to donate as well. In the beginning Mjellma YES ‘13 thought that he will be coming to buy some desserts, but he said that all he wanted to do is give a symbolic amount of money, about $40. This showed us how generous someone can be for a good cause. All of this filled me and everyone involved, with positive thoughts that our community is changing for good.
After three days of hard work involving the whole community, we managed to collect 398, 40€ (or $ 438.22). This money was directly given to the head of the Safe House, with which we decided to put them in the bank and then the Safe House would use them for their needs from time to time. But collecting this amount of money isn’t our proudest accomplishment. What we are the proudest of is that we managed to bring awareness on women’s condition in our society and showed that when we all get together, we can do something great, but it all has to start somewhere, maybe by one person.
Dea Saraqini. YES 2014-2015, KOSOVA, hosted in Greenville, South Carolina