This week I have to be back in the UK for a family party. It feels like a tug – there’s the control freak in me siding with the teacher in wanting to stay in Kosovo and keep coming every day to watch this amazing project unfold, watch these amazing kids soak up all the learning and experiences we’re making possible. But we made a commitment several months ago, in the days before Fushe Kosove (yes, my life is being divided into pre-Fushe Kosove and post-Fushe Kosove) to be there with the family for this big meeting of the clans. Plane tickets have already been booked. And some sleep would be no bad thing.
So I explained at our team meeting earlier this month that I wasn’t going to be in Kosovo this week. Given that we’ve worked through several public holidays, as well as the week when the Kosovo state schools were on holiday, and the kids have even come on Saturday as well, I suggested we could shut the classes for 5 days. The volunteers who come every day (Avdyl, Vlora and Rob) and those who have a commitment to one or more days a week (Donita, Elena, Hope, Jeta, Kanarina, Laura, Lena, Leon, Liridona, Lisa, Marcos, Marigona, Miranda, Narona, Zsofia) all deserve a break.
They looked at me. ‘Can’t we just keep going without you?’
It’s the biggest compliment they could pay me, and it’s five more days of learning for all those children. So now I’m typing this sitting at the airport thinking about what they are doing right now. And in a minute my inner control freak and teacher are about to board a plane and leave internet access briefly behind. Here’s hoping we all have a wonderful week.
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