So Friday was a great day, the Hollywood shot, as the children stepped out en masse across the mahalla to claim the education that was theirs by right.
But what was done at the ‘big school’ on Friday was only the assessment. The plan agreed with the municipality and ministry was that by yesterday we would receive the assessment conclusions for each child and that at some point before 20 July the children would then be officially registered. The best movie director would be hard pressed to make a compelling scene out of such a process, but as time passed following our jubilant assessment day at the end of last week, even without a Hans Zimmer soundtrack I found I was on the edge of my seat.
When the end of the working day passed yesterday, without any assessment data sent through to us, and then midnight passed too, I started fearing conspiracy theories and doubting that we were going to keep to the timetable before all education staff went on holiday on 20 July. This morning, however, I got a call from the school director. The assessment data was ready and I should go and collect it.
In his office he handed me the list of names with a recommended entry class for each child. It was signed by all members of the commission, and had a reassuring big school stamp on it. Great.
‘And when might the children be registered?’ I asked politely.
‘They are! This is the official confirmation.’
Hans Zimmer’s orchestra crescendoed and the camera whirled around the room, my grinning face, panned to Gjelane out in her yard playing with their new puppy and looking up with a small confident smile, wiped to Ajnur saying ‘ueh!’ which is Fushe Kosove speak (now adopted by me) for ‘wow’, and then went wobbly round the edges so we know that this is an image of the future showing Besmire, who always wanted to be a doctor, all qualified and standing in the door of her surgery in 2030 welcoming a different generation of children for their vaccinations.
All this while I was quietly, jubilantly shaking the director’s hand. It was a milestone moment – the end of an extremely long and sometimes wearying process. But it’s not really the end – for those 52 children this is just the beginning.
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