The end of the year is a period of joy for all of us, especially for children, because in this period of time gifts are exchanged with the people we love the most. But for the children of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, this is difficult due to difficult economic conditions.
Due to their engagement in extracurricular activities and thanking to the donors who, through their donations, which we buy bags, school materials and everything else that children need for school, make it possible for children to have better quality education at school and in TIP's Azure Centre.
This year, the donors made sure to make the children happy at the end of the year with gifts for the New Year, but also to thank them for their commitment and participation in extracurricular activities, as well as to motivate them to continue to follow these activities, where apart from learning and doing their homework, they also have fun with various educational activities.
If you saw the joy on the faces of the children when they were receiving the gifts, you would understand how with so little you can make someone happy.
For Bajrush, this day was different than the others, because in addition to the new things he learned, he also received a gift. He said, "I am very happy today that I received a gift, because inside the gift there are toys that I can play together with my sisters and brothers at my house".
While Besmirja, after opening the gift, said to her friend with a big smile on her face, "Look at the doll I have in a gift, every time I've seen it on television, I've wanted to have a doll like this just for myself ".
Also, during the month of December, Prishtina High School organized a challenge for students to collect clothes, shoes and other things and brought them to the center on the day of the event for the opening of the Azure center for all students who attend extracurricular activities.
Everyone was happy after receiving their gifts and other donations from Prishtina High School and we were very happy for them.
Donors, thank you for helping the children.
THE IDEAS PARTNERSHIP
Shpresa is a 13-year-old girl who, like too many others in the community where The Ideas Partnership works, dropped out of school. However, Shpresa then changed her mind. In most cases, there would be no going back, but with TIP's support, she has been able to enter an intensive programme which is getting her back to the standard she needs to be a to join her classmates,
Newly motivated, Shpresa is now also a regular volunteer at TIP, helping younger children with their learning at TIP's centre. These children, like Shpresa, have the chance to attend extra classes to boost their skills in English, maths and history, and receive books and schoolbags from TIP when school starts back this month.
Another child who's benefited from this was Niaz, who spoke to me with enthusiasm about how much he enjoys school. 'I get along well with everyone there,' he says as we talk at the centre in front of murals dotted with words like 'adventure', 'hope', and 'think'. Niaz is a regular participant of TIP’s reading club, where children read books in Albanian and English, and attends several other extra-curricular activities at the centre. 'The teachers at TIP have helped me understand concepts I'd struggled with in school, and taught me how to be friendlier as well,' he says. 'My relationship with the TIP teachers is great because they can find the balance between work and play.'
From meeting Shpresa and Niaz I see how TIP is essential in both facilitating access, and inspiring children to stay in school. Among the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, the rates of children dropping out are appalling and TIP helps to protect the fundamental human right to education for these children. As the mural reminds us, these activities offer adventure and they offer hope,
We did not know what to expect when we set out from our home in Riga, Latvia. In our car we packed our bags and boxes with donations we had collected from friends, family and businesses in the previous weeks. We drove the two-thousand-kilometer journey to discover that Kosovo was a country of friends.
We volunteered with The Ideas Partnership at the Fushe Kosova district and we could not have felt more welcomed, both by the organization and the community.
The warmth with which we were treated was earnest and authentic. Clearly, we had made the right choice coming to work alongside the lovely people of a community in need of support.It was while distributing the donations that we met the Hatixhe and Isa's family.They welcomed us into their tidy home and we asked about their children and their education.Two of their boys, Florim and Muhamer—13- and 7-years-old, respectively—were not going to school.
Florim had had a traumatic experience with a teacher who had wacked him on the head with a book. The school apparently did not take the situation seriously enough and a deflated Florim had stopped going to classes.
Muhamer should have started his school year, but was afraid to attend after hearing what had occurred to his older brother.
This difficult situation seemingly had no good outcome. Without education, how could the boys hope for a better future?
With TIP’s help we devised a strategy to support the boys’ education remotely and to follow their development.
We had frank and respectful conversations with their parents and agreed that education would be the only path towards a better future for the two boys, their family, and their community.
Today, we feel that our brief period in Kosovo has created an invisible but robust bridge between us and the Fushe Kosova community and the people at TIP.
And we hope that much support, joy, and collaboration will run through this bridge for a long time to come.
School is the place for sowing the love of learning, teaching, and life. When the school doors opened and the bell started to ring, the feelings of joy, laughter, and excitement were sparkling everywhere.
Thanks to your donations, we were able to distribute new bags and school supplies to 350 children who are attending activities in our four centers (Fushë Kosovë, Janjevë, Obiliq, and Graçanica). ''Look, I have a new bag, notebook, and a pencil'' I heard a voice coming from a cute little boy. It was one of the best feelings to see them happy and being surrounded by their love.
We're grateful, to have all of you donors part of the education journey of these children. It is your generosity that it's creating opportunities where these children can go to school. It is every child's right to go to school and be educated. As long as there are people with big hearts like you, we can bring children out of darkness and put them into bright.
Just like Marian Wright Edelman once said: “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.“ So while we are here and we can, let's try to improve the lives of others and send a good message in the future.
Thank you, all of you donors for being the reason to keep these children in school and to see so many smiles on these children's faces.
The Ideas Partnership :)
The freshly white-washed walls of widow Gjylizare’s home enclose a small yard where chickens scratch and red roses grow. It is a place of retreat from the tightly packed alleyways of the Roma enclave of Fushe Kosove and a source of pride for her and her sons. Muhamet, her youngest son of fifteen years, explains how the Get a Kosovan Kid to School project provides extra lessons and a reading club to assist him in getting back into elementary school. He has obvious abilities in languages, speaking both Albanian and Turkish, but did not pass his exams. However, “He is smart!” his mother says with a smile; and he proves it by switching to English to tell us that learning German and English were his biggest challenges.
Muhamet’s older brothers work intermittently in construction or in any other labor they can get their hands on. He has no definite ambitions himself, other than the popular but precarious route of making music for a living. As well as facilitating extra classes the Get a Kosovan Kid to School project provides the community with basic school materials and a library – the raw resources for opening up educational opportunities now and employment options later.
During our visit with the Gjylizare’s family an incapacitated older son and his young daughter join us on an old sofa in the yard. Ermine is a bright shy girl of twelve years; the project’s activities support her educational engagement in a culture where there is often pressure to marry at a very young age. However, her aspirations are more certain than her cousin Muhamet’s: she wants to be a teacher and enjoys learning Albanian.
Besides any income from her working son’s insecure subsistence efforts Gjylizare stretches a benefit payment of ninety euros per month as far as she can. Unforeseen scenarios, such as ill health, can be financially debilitating. Although the extended family always rallies to help out the chances of successfully stabilizing their future livelihood is increased if Muhamet can reengage with school and Ermine can fulfill her aspiration to become a teacher.
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