Tomislav and his wife Radmilla were part of the first urban return in Kosovo facilitated by DRC. After they fled Prizren in 1999, Tomislav and his wife were displaced to Serbia where they were able to live with his cousin for a while. 'We stayed with my cousin for a year, but as all our cousins had been displaced to Serbia it was impossible to stay as a family. We had to rent a house and that is where we stayed for the next 12 years.' During their time in Serbia, Tomislav and his wife received a small pension. Both their children got married and moved to Beograd, while the parents stayed in their rented house in Sredska, a small village 15km from Prizren.
'We wanted to return because we were born In Prizren, went to school here and all our friends are here. It is harder for elderly people to get integrated.' Upon returning Tomislav and Radmilla stayed at a guesthouse with other returnees until the construction of their house was finished.
Rebuilding houses in the historic part of Prizren comes with its own set of challenges. Together with its partners and the municipality, DRC carefully used the city's archives to research original techniques and materials to rebuild the houses in way that matched the old style as closely as possible. 'I think it is important to try and preserve the historic buildings and monuments in our town and our house was part of that. At first we felt a little uncomfortable in our new home because we were used to living in a house that was 200 years old. We missed the smell of the old house. But we got used to it and I like the style of our new house, it is not quite the same but it is very close.' Tomislav and his wife have since settled into their home and gotten reacquainted with their old neighbourhood.
'Some of our old friends from the neighbourhood are still alive, but we also made new friends in the city. We often walk to the market in town. We always meet people along the way and stop for tea or coffee or just a chat. We didn't ave this in Serbia.'
The project was co-financed by the British Embassy and the Ministry of Communities and Returns. The project is being implemented by the Danish Refugee Council and its partner Sveti Spas.