"My name is Fatime. I grew up in a small village near Pristina and am a survivor of the war in Kosovo."
The 1990s were a difficult time for me and my family. With increasing military occupation, we faced aggression in every aspect of our lives — children were refused entry into their schools, houses were robbed, families were broken apart and many people became refugees, constantly uprooting their lives to find safety. During the course of the conflict, more than 7,000 soldiers had occupied our village, destroying everything in their path. My family and I moved many times — from village to village, to Pristina, Kosovo's capital city, over the border to Macedonia and eventually fleeing to Germany. With my brothers serving in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), I was left responsible for my elderly parents' safety. During one of our moves, my mother pleaded to be left behind, thinking she’d be a burden on our family. I refused to listen and carried her all the way on my back. While we were living in Pristina, refugees flooded in from the villages, many of which had been traumatized and hungry. Military police rounded up my family and took us to a train going to Macedonia. Just short of the border, the train stopped and police made us get out and walk the final stretch. We were taunted as we walked and told that there were mines on either side of the track that we might tread on.
After living in a camp in Macedonia, my family was granted official refugee status and flown to Germany. We were treated very well — they gave us housing, food and health care. During our 15 months in Germany, we watched the progress of the war on television, trying hard to stay in touch with those who remained behind. I was relieved when the bombing stopped. After a lifetime of oppression, NATO had given us the chance to be free. When we returned to Kosovo in July 2000, we faced utter destruction. Twelve members of my family had been killed. Miraculously, my immediate family had all survived. I met Demir, my now husband, in Germany as fellow refugees. We married in celebration of the end of the war and returned to Kosovo to start our lives together.” Read about Demir and his quest to rebuild his life with the help of the HALO Trust.