The Dimic family returned to Kosovo in June 2013. When the entire family assembles in their living room today, there is barely room for Dalibor, his wife Zorica and their five children to squeeze onto the couch. Dalibor’s father has to sit on a chair across the room. ‘From here I can keep an eye on all my grandchildren,’ he smiles.
Dalibor’s father built the house himself in 1970. Atop the rolling hills of Strazhë/Straža village in Novobërdë/Novobrdo Municipality, the landscape gives view to meadows and small houses dotted around fields and green pastures.
‘It is now 14 years since we had to leave our home behind, says Zorica. In 1999, the family arrived in Obrenovac, Serbia, where they rented a house. Those years in displacement were marked by uncertainty. ‘We moved around a lot, changed from one house to another. It was the same with Dalibor’s work. Sometimes he found a job for a few months, sometimes there was nothing for us,’ says Zorica. ‘It was hard on the children too. The school we had to send them to was far away. I couldn’t always go with them, many times they had to walk home alone’, she adds.
‘In the end we decided to return home because we were both born here. In Serbia we lived in a house we didn’t own,’ says Dalibor. When the family arrived in Kosovo, they were faced with the full extent of damage to their home. ‘Only one room still had a door and windows. So we all stayed in there for 2 months until we got help from BPRM,’ says Zorica.
The young family was selected under the BPRM project for minor shelter repair, food/non-food assistance and furniture and an income-generation grant. The damage to the house required rehabilitation of electrical works, bathroom, plastering, flooring, and the replacement of doors and windows. With BPRM funds, Danish Refugee Council Kosovo was able to make the family’s house fit to live in again.
Now, the family is slowly starting to rebuild their life in Kosovo. In villages like Strazhë/Straža it can be difficult to make a living and jobs are scarce. Dalibor used to work in construction in Serbia, but here not many companies look for workers. ‘There were no decent jobs in Obrenovac. I used to work in construction, but I never had the opportunity to get real training,’ says Dalibor. Still he adds: ‘Here it is easier because we have our land and space to grow vegetables. Also the mentality of the people here is different.’ ‘In these times it is difficult everywhere, but at least here we have the support of our neighbors,’ agrees Zorica. The family owns 3 hectares of arable land and plans to plans to grow maize and feed for their livestock. ‘For our income-generation grant we asked for a cow and a calf. When we finally put them in our stable our neighbors helped us with feed for the animals. When we arrived it was too late to plant anything. But next year we will have planted enough to feed them ourselves,’ Dalibor thinks.
‘We are grateful for the support we received. But one of the best things is having the school for the children so close by,’ Zorica adds. The local primary school has only fifteen pupils, and three of the Dimic family’s children attend classes there. The teacher has more time than usual to devote to the children. ‘In my grade we are only three girls,’ says Tamara the oldest who is ten. ‘Math is my favorite subject. We have school in the afternoon and I usually walk there with my little sister Biljana and brother Bogdan.’ He has recently started pre-school and likes playing with friends the most. ‘But these days they don’t just play. They practice their letters and numbers,’ Zorica adds proudly.
Before we say goodbye to the Dimic family, we decide to take a photo of everyone. However, getting everyone together for a family portrait is quite a task. During the interview the children snuck out one after the other to play in the school’s playground. But Zorica is used to that. In a matter of minutes she has found all of them and lined them up neatly for the photo.