When they’ve taken your voice

I’ve lost my voice. In fact, I discover that in Albanian ‘they have taken my voice’.  Well, whoever ‘they’ are, I hope they give it back in time for greeting the kids tomorrow morning.

I went to Fushe Kosove over the weekend to take some more donations – now each classroom has a whiteboard (thank you, Joanna, John and USAID), and we have one more desk (thank you Louise and Mari).  When Idriz who runs the shop downstairs heard me croaking, his first question was ‘have you been to a wedding?’ It’s true that Kosovan weddings have music that’s so loud there’s an inevitable consequence for your vocal cords if you try to hold a conversation, but I’ve not been to a wedding – just in a classroom all week.

But over the weekend there’s no need for a voice.  Not to keep this project going anyway – over the past two days I have been Getting Gjelane To School entirely over the internet.  Emails to supporters and individual donors in Kosovo, the UK, Canada and the US, messages to potential allies in the battle to change the Ministry policy about registration, and liaison with teachers both in our classes and in the Balkan Sunflowers centre which offers education support to women who are out of school, and we’re hoping will be a place where the 14 year old girls we have registered could go for longer-term literacy support.

So I’m all the more aware of the potential when I’m invited to a Skype chat with the donor who might be able to get us 30 reconditioned computers to install in a classroom.  This is what computers can offer you (especially in combination with the literacy and English we’re also teaching) – communication across continents, access to decision makers, connections in your community.  Computers offer you information, and on the basis of information you can make choices.  Your computer gives you your voice back when they’ve taken it from you.

Gjelane’s story is now told in a book published as The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2015) and available on Amazon

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