I’d like to share an update with you about a project we first told you about here. Reacting to a critical need identified by a US Army Civil Affairs team working in Kosovo, Spirit of America funded repairs for a women’s shelter that will serve victims of violence.
During the war for independence from the former Yugoslavia, a brutal conflict that was only ended through US and NATO intervention, women suffered horribly. Rape and torture were commonplace, and the female Kosovar population was unimaginably traumatized.
The US mission to Kosovo has made outreach to these women a top priority, not only to ease their suffering but also to empower them to become leaders in their communities. Strong female voices are even more important when extremist influence and activities are growing in the Balkans – empirical evidence points to the fact that women play a key role in preventing the spread of extremism.
Accordingly, the Army Civil Affairs team told Spirit of America about a shelter in the center of the country that needed support. While the shelter had the full backing of the Kosovo government, and trained staff were ready to provide counseling and therapy to female victims, there were no funds available to restore the rundown facility into a usable space. With your support, those repairs became a reality.
The refurbished facility was just inaugurated. Highlighting the importance of this project, the event was attended by both the incoming and outgoing Presidents of Kosovo, the US Ambassador, the British Ambassador, and the Turkish Ambassador, as well as many women who had suffered during the war.
In his remarks at the inauguration, US Ambassador Delawie said:
The opening of this new center represents tangible support for the promotion of women’s rights in Kosovo. I applaud you for raising your voice to demand inclusion and respect as civilian victims of war — both under the law and in society. I also commend the government for including you; this is an effort everyone can be proud of. It is my hope that the days of stigmatizing victims are behind us. All survivors should know the United States stands with you.
He went on to say:
I want to especially thank the remarkable work of the [US Army team]. [They], with the support of the Spirit of America NGO…did a fantastic job coordinating renovations. Their work helped ensure that the facility was ready for the opening. This is an outstanding example of how civil-military cooperation can help advance an important cause.
You can read the full transcript of Ambassador Delawie’s remarks here.
Projects like this are designed to support the true agents of change in vulnerable communities. Supporting the needs of victims of war – those who understand the true cost of conflict – and empowering them to become leaders in those communities is a critical way to prevent extremism and violence.
Thank you for your support,
Field Ops Director