Hope for new terms of peace;Interview;Anyle Durakei;Rahman Sertolli;Nazmuje Gashi

20th August 1999 at 01:00
Kevin Weaver talks to three Kosovan teachers determined to start again for the sake of the children

ANYLE DURAKEI worked as headteacher in a refugee camp in the Albanian capital of Tirana until June, when he returned to his old home in Kosovo. His house was in Krushe e Madhe - the scene of one of the worst massacres of the war.

"Everything was destroyed and burned - the village was empty. I have lost a son as well as many friends. Nine teachers from my school are missing, and the school director was murdered by the Serbs. They targeted the intellectuals - I escaped but they burned my house down."

His son was buried next to 20 other Kosovan Liberation Army soldiers, surrounded by 70 smaller graves containing the burnt remains of people massacred by the Serbs. An estimated 400 people were killed just after the NATO bombing started.

The school had been used by the Serbs as a barracks and so was relatively unharmed.

"We have about 900 pupils for the primary school (they will learn in the morning ) and 400 for the secondary school (afternoon). We have only three school buildings left in this town. Caritas, an Austrian and Italian charity, has promised about pound;12,000 to build two more schools and repair the roof on our grammar school.

"We have only 40 teachers now and need another 12 by September. The Serbs stole all our computers and TVs and we have no books or pencils left. We have electricity but no water or toilets. One of our primary pupils was killed, and three from the grammar school. It will be hard to start again but we must, for the children's sake."

RAHMAN SERTOLLI was teaching in the same Tirana refugee camp as Mr Durakei. I met him _living in a hut with his family. He returned to Bellanic, his village in Kosovo, on June 13, the day after the peace deal was signed.

"My home was used by the Serbs as a headquarters and was only 50 metres from the KLA frontlines - the heart of the Drenica area where the fighting was hardest. A grenade had been thrown through the letterbox, all the windows were smashed and all the rooms had sniper holes.

"Our school was untouched though many windows, chairs and tables were smashed.

One teacher has disappeared and two pupils have been killed. We opened on August 2 to finish last year's term.

"We have had no humanitarian aid. Teachers haven't been paid for a year, though Caritas or Save the Children have promised to pay us. With the help of NATO and the UN we can rebuild our institutions if we are declared a protectorate.

Hopefully we will have our independence in three years. The killing of 14 Serbs at Lipljan last month show that we can't live together."

NAZMUJE GASHI is a primary teacher. She slept in a sports hall in Tirana with her daughter, two sons and husband for 10 days until Caritas found them a room in a house with 13 other families.

"When the peace deal was finally signed on June 12 we stayed up partying all night. When school finished we all returned in a Lada. It was like a dream to cross the border with no Serb police checking our documents or hassling us. I thought I'd never come back when they took all our documents at the border.

"Three hours after I arrived I went to check my primary school. It was fine, though computors and some equipment had been stolen. When the children saw me they hugged me and asked me when they could come to school again - I was crying all the time.

"I am concerned about our pay. Our term starts on September 1 and I've heard nothing. Save the Children gave some toys to the children but nothing else.

"Our school has 2,000 pupils and 55 teachers and was divided into a Serb school on one side of the playground and an Albanian side. Now all the Serbs have gone except one teacher who asked for her job back - but there are no longer any Serbs to teach and she doesn't speak Albanian."

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