Get a Kosovan Kid to School

by The Ideas Partnership
Get a Kosovan Kid to School
Get a Kosovan Kid to School
Get a Kosovan Kid to School
Get a Kosovan Kid to School
Brothers Omer and Osman
Brothers Omer and Osman

Eight year-old Osman has his goals set, he will not miss a day at school and one day he will become a teacher. He attends the second grade, his favourite subject is Maths, though he says he likes Albanian grammar just as much.

Ahmet, Osman’s father, works as a taxi driver to be able to provide for the family. ‘I manage to make just enough to feed my family’ – says Ahmet, ‘but without your support I wouldn’t be able to provide my children with books and school bags’.

Osman’s younger brother, seven year-old Omer, started school in September, but he is reluctant to attend. He says that he doesn’t feel welcome at school because he’s from a minority community and has had a hard time fitting in. But his father Ahmet is determined to get Omer back to attending school regularly. ‘Education is the only way he can become something’.

Ahmet has already been in contact with our mediator Hysni, whose salary is supported by your donations, about ensuring Omer is a regular pupil.

Osman and Omer are two of the over 80 children who attend the extracurricular classes on Saturdays at The Ideas Partnership centre in Fushe Kosove, where they are taught English, Albanian and Maths from our hardworking volunteers, whose transport to our centre is also covered thanks to your support.

Thanks to you, we have been able to provide the children with winter transport to and from school for the second year in a row now, making sure they don’t miss a day at school even when the temperatures are very low.

‘I was never taught to read or write’ – says the boys’ mother Istisha, ‘I don’t want my boys to be illiterate as I am’.

So that’s Osman’s New Year’s resolution, and his mother’s goal. And our resolution is to help them achieve their dreams. What’s yours?

Thank you for enabling us to help some of the most vulnerable children in Kosovo to get the education they need, despite all the difficulties they face.

The boys and their father Ahmet
The boys and their father Ahmet
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Samet at the centre in Fushe Kosove
Samet at the centre in Fushe Kosove

Saturdays are always the busiest days at the centre in Fushe Kosove which you’ve helped us to pay for. It’s on Saturdays that the extracurricular classes are held, and with the school year just having started, the centre is busy with over 90 children buzzing with excitement.

This Saturday is particularly hectic because we have a special guest: British singer Joss Stone is coming to visit. But just before she arrives, I manage to have a little chat with Samet, a 10 year-old boy who is attending classes. Samet looks at me carefully when I ask him about his dreams for the future, and tells me he wants to be a policeman when he grows up.

‘Samet is always very punctual and never misses a class; he is very attentive,’ says Lirije, who is teaching Albanian at our centre. She’s one of our over 120 volunteers who take turns teaching on Saturdays and whose transport from Prishtina is covered by your kind donation.

Our mediator Hysni tells me that Samet lives with his parents and four siblings, though he is the only one attending the public school right now. A year ago, Samet’s father, only just managing to provide for his family by what he earned from singing at weddings, decided to take his family to Germany, in hope of a better life. He and the children were sent back to Kosovo though it was hard to fit back into their former life especially when Samet’s brothers and sisters had lost their place at the local school . The children are now attending intensive classes initiated by The Ideas Partnership, to catch up with their peers.

But after this confusing time shifting countries, at least one person in the family still has the stability of school, and your donations have equipped Samet with school bags and school supplies for his lessons so he can succeed there.

Besides the classes on Saturdays, Samet loves our Reading Together project. He was one of the first children to try Reading Together through Skype, pairing with a volunteer in the UK with whom he reads each week from our stock of bilingual books.

By the time Joss Stone arrives he is deep in a story.

Thanks to you, Samet’s siblings will get back to school, and Samet will have the chance to contribute to building Kosovo. We believe that he can become a hard-working policeman who really enjoys reading.

Samet and teacher Lirije
Samet and teacher Lirije
Samet and the Reading Together project
Samet and the Reading Together project
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Vjollca and Shpresa at their house
Vjollca and Shpresa at their house

Shpresa, 11, and Vjollca, 8 are up and ready an hour early, for another day at school. They wash their feet and hands, put on clean clothes and grab their books. During the summer their grandfather, Shaban, walks them to school because Shpresa’s disabled arm prevents her from carrying her books. During the winter months, The Ideas Partnership (TIP) provides transportation for them and other schoolchildren in Fushe Kosove.

            This typical day has become a reality for Shpresa and Vjollca; however, life wasn’t always this way. Only when your donation enabled The Ideas Partnership to offer support for Shpresa’s disability - through physiotherapy, funds for medical fees and school transport - did the girls’ parents believe that she could attend school and then her sister started school too.

            Shpresa, Vjollca, their mother, grandfather and their preschooler brother and sister live on what their father earns from collecting plastic from the garbage and selling it at 13 cents per kilogram. Without education, this is the only livelihood that the girls would have ahead of them, too. But – even in this community where 96% of people haven’t completed compulsory education - the generations without schooling are changing with these two pupils and their enthusiasm for learning.  

            Vjollca explains “It’s better now because we have friends. We learn new things and are happy to get good grades.” Vjollca’s favourite subject is math and she now has dreams of being a lawyer. Shpresa says “I’m happy I can play sports at school and I can use my arm more easily” – thanks to the twice-weekly physiotherapy sessions and medical support which TIP provides with your donation.

            Shpresa has been involved in TIP’s physiotherapy sessions for alost a year now and her mother says that she sees progress in her capabilities. TIP also assists the family by taking Shpresa to the doctor’s office to be assessed.  

Shpresa’s name means ‘Hope’ and her whole family now seems to have this positivity about the future. Her mother, Sofia, says “I feel so much better now with the girls going to school. I have hope … because they will be able to get jobs and help the family.”

Thank you for changing the course of a girls’ life and the dreams of her family.

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Gani in the school yard
Gani in the school yard

When you stop at the traffic lights controlling the busiest intersection in Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina, you are likely to spot an 11 year-old boy: in order to help ensure his family has enough to eat, young Gani spends a few hours every day washing car windows. It’s his addition to the fragile income provided by his parents for Gani and his siblings through the dangerous and unsavoury job of rubbish picking – scavenging recyclable materials from piles of garbage.

But even though Gani works every day, he makes sure to be back just on time for school. ‘He never misses a class. It is very heartwarming seeing how motivated he is, considering his background’ – says Hysni, the community mediator funded by your donations. I’m talking to him while we ride to school on the crowded bus, provided by The Ideas Partnership to get the children to and from school during bad weather, making sure they won’t miss any classes. When we get there, we run into Gani’s English teacher Albana, who tells us that he is a very good student, and smart. Nevertheless, Albana is very surprised to find out about his family’s conditions. ‘I have noticed him not being very attentive now and then, but never knew that he works!’- says Albana, looking shocked.

Gani is the first child of the family to attend school. But he is very excited to tell us that his little sister, Liridona, is attending school now too, following his footsteps. He adds that because the GlobalGiving donations provide him clothing and with what he needs for school, he does not have to work as much now, ‘Now I have more time to study and even help my little sister with her homework’ says Gani proudly.

Now, thanks to you and your support, Gani and other children like him can spend more time with their classmates and their books on their way to becoming a generation of change for their communities.

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Vjollca learned to write this winter
Vjollca learned to write this winter

In a classroom crowded with children I spot the shy smile of Vjollca, one of the children who attend our ‘intensive classes’. These classes, which are led by volunteers, are for children aged 8 to 14 who have never been registered in school or have dropped out of school very shortly after starting.

There are 57 children registered in the intensive classes. When these classes started in early October, 13 children out of the total 57 already knew the Albanian alphabet, but were unable to either write or read; the rest of the children were completely illiterate. Vjollca was part of the latter group, but now, around 2 months after starting the classes, she knows her alphabet, and is successfully learning to write and read in Albanian.

Vjollca’s case is unique in this group because she is a girl with special needs. When I asked her mother what was it that Vjollca suffered from, she told me that all that the doctors had told her was that ‘Vjollca has a brain problem’, which she was born with. This is the reason for the spasticity in Vjollca’s right arm and leg.

Coming from the poorest community in Kosovo, Vjollca’s family could not afford to get her the treatment she needed for her condition. Their only income is what Vjollca’s father makes from the scrap he collects, barely managing to feed the family.

In July we started physiotherapy sessions at our centre in the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community in Fushe Kosove, for Vjollca and the other 9 children with mobility difficulties whom we identified living here. These sessions are held once a week, offering support to the children and advice to their parents on treatment they can apply at home to improve their children’s condition. For most of the children, these sessions are the only form of medical treatment they get.

With a look of contentment, the coordinator of the physiotherapy sessions, Rabije, tells us about Vjollca. Rabije is from the same community as Vjollca and she knows the usual fate here of children born with special needs like Vjollca. ‘When she first started attending the physiotherapy sessions, Vjollca was very anxious and would cry a lot’ says Rabije, ‘but after a few sessions her hand and leg were feeling much better, and so was Vjollca, and we realized that it was time for a more challenging activity for her’.

And that is how Vjollca, with the help and encouragement of Rabije, and our Albanian curriculum coordinator, Lirije, became an important part of the intensive classes.

‘She could barely hold the pen in her hand’ recalls Lirije who besides supervising these classes, sometimes teaches too. ‘But now she knows the alphabet and she is starting to write and read’ she says proudly. Lirije has also seen that when Vjollca learned something new and was at the same level with the rest of the class, it immediately made her more confident and comfortable around the other children. Now Vjollca gets so excited about the classes that she always shows up half an hour early, and eagerly waits for everyone else to get there, always with that beautiful smile on her face.

Your donations fund the costs of these classes to help the children of Fushe Kosove who do not attend school, so that they can catch up with their peers and get ready to register in school. The classes are part of a multi-pronged approach which includes putting pressure on state institutions to fulfill their obligations to these children. From Vjollca, and the others of the 57 children learning in these classes, we thank you for the way you are transforming lives and life-chances in these most challenging circumstances.

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Organization Information

The Ideas Partnership

Location: Prishtina - Kosovo
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @kosovarngo
Project Leader:
elizabeth gowing
Prishtina, Kosovo
$47,012 raised of $49,000 goal
933 donations
$1,988 to go
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