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Kadire Tahiraj is a mother of three, and lives with her husband and children in a small two room house.
“My sons are 16 and 22, and my daughter is 19. They are enrolled in school, but I worry that we may not be able to pay for their education much longer due to my husband’s small income as a factory worker. I graduated from secondary school where I received training to be a laboratory technician, and attended High Pedagogic School, but because of the political and economic turmoil in Kosovo, I could not complete my studies. Education is my unfulfilled dream, and I don’t want the same to be true for my children,” says Kadire.
At the beginning of the war, Kadire and her first husband were expecting a baby. When she began to have problems during the pregnancy however, she was hospitalized in Peja. There, along with three other Kosovar women, she was tortured by Serbian members of the medical staff. “One morning, a nurse came to us with injections. The only thing I remember her saying was, ‘It is time for delivery.’ But it wasn’t time for delivery. It was too early for all of us. In the twelve hours following that injection, we all had miscarriages. It was one of the hardest moments of my life.
The staff did this because they were told to leave the hospital and execute all of the patients present. That evening the four of us got organized and escaped from that hell. At midnight, we took a taxi and traveled to Montenegro, because the entire city of Peja was empty. I still cannot believe we escaped.” She found her family, but they told her that her husband had been killed, while she was in the hospital.
She badly needed medical care, and was rushed to a refugee camp in Albania. There, she received heartbreaking news: the injection she had been given prevented her from ever being able to have children. Kadire stayed in the camp while she recuperated.
“While I was in the camp there were three children and no one was taking care of them. I thought to myself, ‘God, what happened to those kids?’ Every day, I became more and more friendly with them, and tried to take care of them as much as I could. The youngest was only six years old. It was the only thing that gave me happiness after what I had endured. My husband had died, I had lost my child, and I would never be able to have a baby of my own. The least I could do was take care of these children who were all alone. Their mother had died during the war, and their father had taken them to relatives who were supposed to take care of them. Their relatives traveled to Albania with them, but in the refugee camp they were left on their own. It made me cry to think of them all alone,” says Kadire.
After three months, Kadire returned to Kosovo. She kept in touch with the children, as they missed her and wanted to stay close to her. Kadire eventually married their father, so the children could have a mother in their lives. “We have been together a long time. I have a blessed life with my husband. I consider the kids my own, and I have never told anyone that they are not my children. I always try to buy them nice things, because I don’t want them to think that I don’t care for them just because I am not their natural mother.”
Since enrolling with Women for Women, Kadire has been a powerful example for other women in the group. She is very active and talkative during training sessions, and she initiated and organized trips around Kosovo for 90 women. “For many women, this was the first time they had visited many of the places we went. They were very thankful for the chance to see a good side of our country. I have achieved this because of Women for Women. The program has helped me realize that we can achieve things for ourselves, we just need to work for what we want.”
Kadire attended customer service and sales training classes through Women for Women, and used her sponsorship funds to buy her children clothing. “I liked every part of the Women for Women training, but my favorite part was the ‘Economical Value of Housework.’ I am very thankful to both my sponsor and the organization for making the program possible.”
Kadire also took a family health education course through the Red Cross. “After completing my training, I taught other women about women’s health, and assisted in performing their physical exams. I also organized wellness and domestic violence trainings for Women for Women participants, as well as students from a local secondary school. In the process, my colleague and I helped to identify and report several cases of domestic violence.”
Kadire has encouraged more than 120 women to enroll in Women for Women in Drenas and Novoberda. She is a valuable ambassador for Women for Women’s work in Kosovo.