Claudia Zambra (Kosovo)

Claudia Zambra (Kosova Women’s Network – KWN): Claudia was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College, where she focused on development in Latin America and the Balkans. After graduating, Claudia worked for the Law Offices of Bagia and Morley in Philadelphia, preparing asylum cases. In 2002, As part of a summer job, Claudia helped to produce a website for Globovision, the largest news channel in Latin America. At the time of her fellowship, Claudia was pursuing a Master of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University. After her fellowship, Claudia herself concluded that she had only partly achieved her objective: “The website was updated and new material was posted. I was also able to redesign some parts of the website and tailor it more to the needs of the organization, plus I attempted to make it more dynamic by adding a highlights section and making an actual home page for the website. However, only about half of the organizations were profiled. The biggest problem was gathering the information. Most members of the organization do not speak English well enough to sit through an interview. I was dependent on my trainee for translation, but she was frequently absent.” This suggested to Claudia that while the idea of a network is appealing, it can take a lot of hard work, skill and resources to coordinate a diverse group of organizations. Her recommendation? “The network needs to have at least one staff member to take care of the website, coordinate activities and meetings, act as translator if necessary, and serve as a contact person for the KWN. Another Advocacy Project intern could help train this staff member in all necessary areas, including website maintenance.”

Food and Humanitarian Aid

27 Jun

Spending time in Kosovo makes you wonder about the quality of the food and the utility of humanitarian aid, particularly when it seems more like another money-making scheme than anything else. Regarding the food, I already found the answer: stop wondering and watch what you eat…my resistance to Venezuelan parasites was useless in the Balkans. Unfortunately, I was warned about the quality of the food, or lack thereof (by the locals, not the foreigners), after the nauseous wave had crashed and broken. On to bigger and better, or at least more interesting, things…aid efforts. You can also visit 먹튀사이트 for better information.

On the one hand, it seems like Kosovo’s fragile stability depends on the presence of UNMIK. On the other hand, UNMIK employees now depend on Kosovo for their comfortable livelihoods. They lengthen their stay, appoint new heads of mission, and do little to find plausible solutions for the problems at hand. This is only one side of the equation…on the other side are the governments themselves who pretend to help the people here. I bring this up after last week’s visit to Prizren and the village of Krusha, where I left with a huge sense of disappointment and a small glimmer of hope.

In Prizren, Igo went to a meeting of KWN members in the area. They expressed the same frustration they’ve felt for years at UNMIK’s behavior towards local organizations and NGO’s, particularly those who advocate for women’s rights. Before the war, Prizren was an example to the rest of Kosovo. Its municipality established an office for gender issues, and it was extremely responsive to the queries and needs of local organizations. There was constant dialogue and a harmonious relationship with positive results for the community at large. After the war in 1999 UNMIK decided to do away with the established office and set up one of its own, headed by a foreigner.

This new office ignored local organizations for the most part. The relationship between this new gender office and the local NGOs is tense, at best. The head of the local gender office didn’t even bother attending the meeting last week, although she was invited as usual. Apparently there is very little interest in local input, perhaps because UNMIK feels they have their own magic formulas to deal with gender issues around the world … This could also be interpreted as a sign that they think women’s organizations in Kosovo are incapable of creating changes in the established gender roles here. Needless to say, dialogue with UNMIK on this matter has been fruitless and many people are frustrated.

All of this brings me to my glimmer of hope: the KWN website. If pressure from within doesn’t work, then use pressure from outside…that’s what the web is for.

I wish the frustrations had ended there, but that wasn’t the case. In Krusha, a few kilometers from Prizren, we visited one of Motrat Qiriazi’s offices. Motrat Qiriazi, headed by Igo, is a member of the KWN and focuses on rural women’s initiatives. 80% of the male population of Krusha was killed during the war, and many women were left in dire straits. MQ was able to find a profitable business in which to engage the town: a pepper factory (as in salt and pepper). After ascertaining the area’s suitability for such a venture they convinced a German government agency to fund the project. The contract they drafted stipulated that after two years management of the factory would be handed over to the women of the town.

Two years have passed, and now the contract seems like a joke. The agency that manages the pepper factory does not want to disclose any of the company’s financial information to the women, despite the fact that ownership is meant to pass to them. This is problematic on several levels, not least because the current owners haven’t been paying the women their salaries on a regular basis. Furthermore, they’ve been selling the pepper in Germany, justifying this by claiming that there is no local market for pepper (after consulting with local salespersons, this was found to be false…this factory is the only one of its kind in Kosovo and local shopkeepers were willing to sell the product in their stores). The sales back in Germany are unaccounted for at the moment, and everything appears to be a little less than transparent. When the local MQ representative demanded the information from the company, the manager threatened not to hand over the company, PERIOD, in violation of the contract.

Kosovo is a paradise for those who wish to break laws or contracts. International citizens cannot be tried here, as there are really no laws, no courts, etc, etc. They can be prosecuted in their country of citizenship, but in Kosovo they effectively enjoy immunity. A slight conflict of interest, seeing as the agency works for the German government.

Igo asked, and I completely agree, why these international agencies even bother coming here to “help” the Kosovars. These women have already been through some pretty heavy traumas, but the Germans seem to be aiming for a new angle. If these are the fruits of relief efforts, I think it is disconcerting to say the least. I rest my case…

Posted By Claudia Zambra (Kosovo)

Posted Jun 27th, 2003

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