On one of our last days here in Kosovo, I wanted to stress one thing: how amazing the people of Kosovo are. From the contacts we have made to the sources themselves, the people here are gracious, hospitable, kind, thoughtful and always looking forward to the future.
I think it comes from having a country with such a rich history going back centuries, they really understand the flow of time and the way humanity interacts with history. I never expected to see people who are nicer than in the Midwest, where we are known for our kindness and helpfulness. But the people of Kosovo are the same way, they sacrifice anything to help you in any way possible.
Most important than all are the people of KIJAC and World Vision, and others we have met who have been willing to serve as translators, drivers and helpers. We would be nowhere without them. I cannot count for you the times that I have not known what to ask, and my translator helped me along. Or there was a miscommunication with a statement or cultural tradition and they explained it to me fully and what to do. People have taken off work, put off their classwork, and gone out of their way to help us with our stories and what we are trying to accomplish here in Kosovo. I know there is no way to possibly thank them fully but I am so grateful for all they have done.
One of the people who has been most helpful to me personally was Ilka, who just dropped by the Grand Hotel to see if anyone could use her on their project. At that moment, I was heading out to a village and didn't have a fluent translator set up. Ilka hopped on board and drove with us, and she helped me tactfully interview a family that experienced the war, and was suffering poverty under the limited employment of their oldest son. Not only was she helpful and brilliant, she was also very fun and I really appreciate her willingness to drop everything to help me on my way.
There are many others I cannot even begin to thank for their help, like Valon, a young man who came up to us because we were speaking English and offered his help on the project because he was an experienced film-maker/producer. He had no ties to us at all but, again, went out of his way to know us and help, even going to the point of volunteering his friends. Also there is Arben, and the staff at KosInvest and World Vision who have helped us meet families and have driven us day after day. Arben is a kind-hearted man who is genuinely trying to accomplish change for the better in the lives of people in Kosovo.
I hope they all know how grateful we all truly are. We would be nothing without their help.