Raspberry Seedlings Fuel Hope in Kosovo
Arzie, a graduated woman from the Women for Women International Kosovo program, has donated 5,000 raspberry seedlings to 88 women across the country.
The war did not make life easy for Arzie and her family, but she knew she had to help other, like herself, who just needed a little help getting started.
Arzie’s story starts long before the war began. She and her sister did not finish their schooling due to the ethnic tensions that had infiltrated society at the time. At 17, Arzie married and had her first child. Arzie was so happy! She says, “I was a mother now. It was the most wonderful feeling that I ever felt...a true gift!” But this happiness did not last long. War began soon after the birth of her child and her husband was abducted and beaten. He escaped and the family fled to Macedonia. There, Arzie had another baby girl. Soon, the war ended and the growing family returned to Kosovo where Arzi had another baby, a boy this time. She says, “[B]eing a mother of three made me stronger.”
The years after the war were not easy for Arzie and her young family. Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer and the medical treatment took a toll on them all. Despite this struggle, Arzie says her family was happy. Her husband found employment soon after the medical treatments for their daughter and things began to change for the better.
Arzie had another baby boy in 2010 and when he was five, the family took up farming raspberries. She says, “It is very hard work but also rewarding.” In 2016, Arzie joined the Women for Women International program in Kosovo. In our program, she began using her voice to help encourage other women to use their voice as well. Arzie started her own association for women called “Infinit” where she helps women change the way they think, help them find solutions to their problems, to fight against injustice. Arzie says, “A woman can be strong without anyone’s help, but she can also breakdown if she expects everyone to value her. To see herself for who she is and accept it is a strength that a woman can have only by believing in herself.”
Arzie also learned more about raspberry cultivation in the Women for Women International program. She always wanted to grow raspberries in large quantities to generate more income. This dream was made possible by a raspberry cultivator, who saw Arzije's dedication. He gave her seedlings for 5 acres of land and told her to pay for it after selling raspberry products. Together with her family, Arzie started cultivating raspberries and expanded her business by selling products made from the raspberries she grew. The success Arzie got from her raspberries gave her the ability to pay it forward and give raspberry seedlings to other women in Kosovo.
Through our program Arzie gained new confidence and knowledge and is dedicated to spreading her success to others. This is why she had donated raspberry seedlings to the current class of women in our program. She says, “I am grateful to Women for Women International for making me believe in myself and made me realize that life is long and that I must start working harder than ever.”