Between January 1998 and June 1999, this European war took over 10,000 lives, made hundreds of thousands people homeless and turned thousands of children into orphans. About 80% of all villages and large parts of the cities in Kosovo were destroyed. At that time two sisters, Florije and Fatmire Terdevci, fled with an inflatable boat from Kosovo through Italy to Switzerland and attended the Rudolf Steiner School in Solothurn (Switzerland), where they received training in Waldorf Education.
In the fall of 1999 when the war was over, they returned to their home country. The devastation and emotional wounds of the people, however, was far worse than they had feared. There was almost no power during the day, the heating did not work at all and often there was no water. Worst of all were the wartime experiences of the people. Especially the children showed their deep emotional wounds through their behaviour. Everyone, whether they had remained in the villages or fled, all of them had terrible stories to tell. Many searched for months and months for their loved ones. Thousands never returned home...
In the capital city of Pristina, in a small room, Florije and Fatmire founded the “Oases” initiative with the help of the Swiss Acacia Foundation. Most of the children who attended the kindergarten came from the villages. Playing games and painting pictures helped them overcome the trauma of the war. A four-year-old boy, Besi, did not speak a word for months. He witnessed the execution of several men from his village. At the beginning Florije did not even know if he was listening at all, because he always sat in the corner and looked in silence at the other children. It took a long time, but after two years Besi turned into a happy child. Soon more and more parents, who had children with similar experiences, wanted to bring them to Oases.
Meanwhile other kindergarten initiatives apart from “Oases” have been founded in Drenas and three surrounding villages, all of which were partly financed by Caritas Switzerland. All kindergartens are educationally accompanied by the “Oases” kindergarten. In Kosovo, the pre-school system and teacher training is still under development. The Swiss Waldorf teacher Beatrice Rutishauser is involved in the practical education and training of additional teachers. This means not only training additional teachers in Waldorf education, but also training them in working with traumatized children and their parents.
Until today the population in Kosovo suffers from the consequences of the war. Those who work, earn an average of € 170. Sending a child to kindergarten costs about half of that amount. At “Oases”, the parents’ pay between two and ten Euros, many of them cannot afford to pay at all. The parents however, are very happy with Waldorf Education. Playing games, painting, singing, story telling and handicrafts do not only prepare children for school and their future life. They also heal their souls. Oases, is an incredibly precious island of hope in Pristina.
Source: Friends of Waldorf Education