Profile du pays : Kosovo / Kosova
Lying adjacent to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, Kosovo was the southern-most province of Serbia, until its self-declared independence in February 2008. This small land-locked country of 2 million people has agricultural lowlands fringed by dramatic mountains. Cradle in medieval times of Serbian culture and religion, Kosovo like most of the Balkans was later subject to 500 years of Ottoman Turkish occupation. Dominated by ethnic Albanians for generations, Kosovo has been the subject of many bitter conflicts, most recently in 1999. This devastated the economy and infrastructure, and left a deep ethnic divide. The United Nations and European Union have struggled to address these issues as the nation slowly rebuilds. Kosovo is now 90% Albanian. The other 10% is made up of Serbs and other ethnic groups, but all the population pride themselves on their traditional warmth and hospitality. The legacy of Turkish culture can still be felt in food, music, dance and language. Life moves slowly, and family and relationships are still the hub of society.
FROM RELIGION TO FAITH
Kosovo Albanians are predominantly Muslim, with this identity becoming stronger since the 1999 conflict and independence. There is also a small Albanian Catholic minority. Mother Theresa is an iconic figure for many Albanians. The Kosovo Serbs are Orthodox, and several of the holiest sites in Serbian Orthodoxy are in Kosovo. Since 1999, about 1000 Kosovo Albanians have become evangelical believers, and many churches are led by national pastors. Although evangelical believers have the same legal status as Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics, the church as a whole remains small and under pressure.
Directly following the war in 1999, OM began bringing love and hope to the broken land of Kosovo. Previous teams participated in some exciting projects of rebuilding and beginning relationships with both Serbs and Albanians. OM currently serves in three of the largest cities, with outreaches to surrounding villages.
The city of Peja lies below the mountains bordering Montenegro. There has been an OM team here since 1999. The current team has several ministries. 1) The main ministry is working with women who are victims of domestic violence and have nowhere to go after leaving the local women’s refuge. The team help them to find living accommodation, assist in their rehabilitation, and teach them new skills, all aimed at making a fresh start in life. 2) Micro-business training and development benefits poor Albanian families , and also women, who face many social restrictions . 3)The team undertake weekly literature distribution in the surrounding villages, many of which remain economically devastated since the fall of communism, and the war. Therefore humanitarian aid is an integral part of this ministry, and the team hopes to begin some business projects and micro-finance loans.
OM Kosovo’s newest team (autumn 2010) has started in the sprawling city of Gjakova, an hour south of Peja. This small team has the vision of establishing a café-centre, including a coffee shop and craft space, which will model drug education, healthy lifestyles, and provide a smoke-free environment for families, young people and individuals...this could lead to other drug rehab/prevention projects in the future. The team currently run a drug education programme for high school pupils, and adults, both in Gjakova , and throughout Kosovo. The programme’s slogan is “thuaj po, jetës” – “say Yes to Life”. The team hope that by providing youngsters with information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, they will see the importance of making healthy, positive choices over their bodies and life. For more information, please visit http://www.theway.uk.com
“OM Arts in Kosovo”, based in the capital city of Pristina, has a wide-reaching vision: to build God’s music scene in Kosovo and create a vibrant Biblical community for artists, actively seeking to unify the Body of Christ around the nation, and use the gifts and talents of youth to transform Kosovo through cultural renewal. One current initiative is staging concert-tours of Kosovan cities by local and international artists, partnering with local churches. Other strategies include running art training camps, and in future providing musical instruments to talented people who cannot afford to buy them. The ultimate vision of OM Arts is opening up a full time venue, designed to reach the youth of Kosovo in an environment that they can connect with. This would double as a music and art training centre during the week, offering lessons in various artistic disciplines, and as a concert venue/Christian club on the weekends.