This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Valire Buza, the Executive Director of KWN-member organization Lira. I was both excited and nervous as I prepared for our meeting. I knew little about the organization, as an exhaustive internet search yielded NO information on the organization or it’s activities. So, I set off to meet Valire at a local café in Pristina, my only clue being the translation of “Lira” from Albanian to English (it means “free”).
When I arrived, Valire warmly embraced me. For the next hour, and through the use of a (wonderful) translator who wished not to be identified, we discussed her organization.
In that time, I learned several important facts.
1. Lira’s mission is to promote the integration of women of all ethnicities into the social and cultural activities of Kosovar society.
However, their approach is a unique one.
Lira’s preferred medium of social integration is MUSIC. Their projects have included the creation of a traveling multi-ethnic women’s choir, the establishment of a multi-ethnic community arts center for women and children in Pristina, and the staging of concerts. And what kind of music does Lira think has the power to bring diverse groups of women together? Check out the video below to find out!
2. Nearly a decade of experience is not enough! Even though Lira was established in 2000 (with the original goal of alleviating the trauma of war among all women), the organization is still struggling to build its institutional capacity. Finding funding is not easy, especially in Kosovo. To hear about Lira’s biggest challenge, and how the organization thinks membership in the Kosovo Women’s Network can help them overcome this particular obstacle, watch the short video below.
3. The tense political situation between the governments of Kosovo and Serbia is greatly impacting the participation of Kosovar Serbs in Kosovar society.
Serbian officials exert significant influence over the Serbian minority still residing in Kosovo (and, some even suggest, over international institutions such as UNMIK and Eulex – see the picture of graffiti that is recreated all over Kosovo and it’s capital city).
Authorities in Serbia have called upon the Serbian minority to abstain from participating in Kosovo’s political, social and cultural institutions. A highly publicized example has been the desertion – and return – of over 300 Serbian police officers to the Kosovo police force. The officers left the force in protest of Kosovo’s declaration of independence last year. However, Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, has publically stated that Serbia is involved in negotiating their return and that they are working on establishing a separate chain of command for Serbian police officers since Serbia and the Serbian minority in Kosovo do not recognize the government of Kosovo as legitimate.
So what does this mean for Lira? To hear their perspective on the involvement of Kosovar-Serb women in their organization and activities, see the video below.
Again, I would like to thank Valire and her translator for meeting with me and giving me such excellent points to think about.
Posted By Tiffany Ommundsen
Posted Jul 6th, 2009