Political instability ended Makfire’s dreams of graduating from college, but it didn't stop her from trying to reach her potential. A student at the University of Pristina in Kosovo in the 1990s, she remembers how the school was forced to close its classrooms. “We held classes in private houses that were turned into learning facilities. I felt quite unsafe to travel, therefore I had to quit college.”Makfire Bulliqi in her office in Pristina
“The fact that I couldn’t graduate from college made me feel isolated,” says Makfire, who is now 45 years old. “I used to stay at home all the time, taking care of my family and doing nothing else.” With high unemployment in Kosovo, Makfire never thought she would be able to find a job.
But Makfire’s mother thought otherwise.
“My mother saw in me a capacity and ability to achieve success in life and encouraged me to fight for my dreams,” says Makfire, recalling how her mother had pushed her to attend Women for Women International’s training in 2009. “When I joined the training, I realized that there are still things that I could do to increase my capacities.”
Finding work for the first time
Makfire committed herself to attending the program, and soon her dedication caught the attention of her trainer. “She recommended me for other trainings that were being held in partnership with other organizations. I attended the business training at Don Bosko and office work training at the Office for Employment.”
In 2012, WfWI-Kosovo began piloting a Job Placement Office in Pristina to help recent graduates of the program connect with employers and job opportunities in the area. To help this new initiative get off the ground, an opening for a Job Placement Assistant was created. Excited by the prospect of helping other women find employment, Makfire applied – and got the job.
“Now I do my job with dedication and I work hard to help other women find employment as well,” says Makfire. Mediating between potential employers and recent WfWI graduates, Makire says, “I am always very excited when women find employment, because I understand the importance of it.”
Strengthening women and families
“I am so grateful to be in a position where I can help others. Women in my country are hard workers, and in need of employment,” says Makfire. “It is important to invest in women and create employment opportunities for them, because I believe that this way we will have […]healthier and wiser youth as well.”
Makfire recalls how she recently helped a woman who came to her office desperate for employment. “Sevdije borrowed the money to pay for the bus ticket to our office where she came to ask for a job. When I saw her will and need for a job, I immediately called a family that was looking for a babysitter. Sevdije cried tears of joy when they agreed to meet with her. Today she is a very happy and employed woman.”
For Makfire, graduating from WfWI’s program and being able to work has changed how she sees herself and what she is capable of. “The trainings that I went to gave me the opportunity to find employment and support my children’s education,” says Makfire. “Now I feel safer and able to give my contribution to my family and my country.” Having the opportunity to talk with other women in the program about the issues they face with their children was also important for Makfire, who has four children of her own. “I became more involved in [my children’s] lives and more open to talk with them. I want my children to be prepared for life and the challenges that they might face.”
Makfire is hopeful that she will have the opportunity to continue training and developing her skills to help her family. Her late mother – who first encouraged her to enroll in WfWI’s program – continues to inspire her to achieve her goals. “She was a wonderful, hard-working and brave woman who dedicated her whole life to our family,” she remembers. “She is the reason why I have this job now. […] She was a very kind and loving woman, and I try my best to become like her.”