We started our day at the Save the Children country office in Prishtina, Kosovo. We met with Ahmet Kryeziu, Country Director, Rudina Ademi Shala, Manager for Programme Development and Quality, Valid Zhubi, Thematic Manager in Education, and Melita Kabashi, Advocacy, Communication and Media Co-ordinator. Then we had a briefing about the partnership, the current situation of children in Kosovo and IKEA Foundation funded programmes. The country office has 24 staff. Save the Children in Kosovo has a code of conduct which applies to all Save Children International employees, trustees, volunteers, interns, trainees, contractors and consultants and other representatives. The organisation works in 13 municipalities of Kosovo.
The main areas of their programmes are education, child protection, child rights governance and health and nutrition. The main approach of Save the Children in Kosovo is working through local organisations and partners in order to ensure sustainability. In this regard they have created a model of best practice in inclusive education. This model can be easily implemented and replicated by other municipalities in the country.
After the briefing and introduction, we travelled to Mitrovica North to visit a community-based rehabilitation centre. Mitrovica municipality is located in northern part of Kosovo, which consists of Mitrovica North and Mitrovica South. The North part is populated mainly by Serbians and the South by Albanians.
Save the Children works with Handikos, a local non-government organisation which was established in 1983. Handikos has 13 community-based rehabilitation centres throughout the country, eight of which are supported by Save the Children. When we arrived Mirena, the manager of the centre, welcomed us. She gave us a short introduction about the centre, which focuses on physiotherapy, non-formal education and psychosocial support.
Thirty children, on average, visit the centre daily. It has a bus which brings the children from home to the centre and back home. And one of the teachers works as a driver on a voluntary basis.
In the four northern municipalities, there are 179 children with mental and physical disabilities. But not all of them visit the rehabilitation centre. One of the reasons is that some parents are shy or sometimes even do not want to admit that their children have disabilities. The centre organises visits to families that have children with disabilities in order to inform them about inclusive education and that their children with disabilities have the same rights to education as others.
In the classroom, we met the children and they were painting the eggs for Orthodox Easter. The children were very engaged in the process of making their masterpieces and even their hands were coloured. We had an opportunity to be part of the painting activity and we became friends. Then we had an interesting excursion around the centre with the manager and the co-ordinator. The centre has a lot of different facilities such as a room with physiotherapy equipment, a playground and others. The rooms are light and the walls are painted with nice colours and with children’s arts.
At the end of our visit, we found out that when 18 pupils of the centre became adults, they got jobs. They still continue to communicate among themselves and even two of them became a couple and got married.