"Peace begins with a smile", said Mother Theresa. On another occasion she gave us this message: "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family".
It seems very easy to promote and cultivate peace, right? It does not sound as an impossible mission, just smile and love your family and your neighbour. Then why is peace so vulnerable? Why are there so many people who do not live in peace, so many people who do not find peace in themselves? How much injustice is caused to the weak? And again, the solution is in our hands, because we can all smile and give peace to ourselves and to others around us.
Such was the ideal of Caritas Kosovo when it started the program of peace and reconciliation in the post-conflict period when everything could be considered permissible except for making peace with “those” who are not like “us” or for starting reconciliation between those who harmed one another. A nearly impossible mission for Caritas in the most controversial and problematic part of Kosovo, the Mitrovica region, which is composed of Albanian, Serb, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.
In these circumstances, Caritas could not demand from people that things simply happen, nor could Caritas just state the fact that peace is essential in a normal society, because this was not enough. In this regard, Caritas Kosovo, supported by Partners of Peace, began to give concrete example to various local and international institutions that peace is possible and reconciliation must take place, sooner or later. Based on Mother Teresa's message, Caritas shows to others that human love is possible through the example of its staff who come from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, but who cultivate same universal values and consider diversity an added value. This daily process of peace is slow, but gradually opinions begin to change and barriers are removed. By building bridges we are creating the foundation for peace.
Once peace prevailed in the Caritas family, we were ready to help others in various ways: smiling, feeding the poor, helping the children of minority communities in education and social inclusion, accompanying young people in their journey, promoting peace together with political and religious leaders, supporting the economic development of families and providing social services for the most needy. To witness every day that peace can be achieved is not only a wish, it is a possible reality. For nearly two decades, in the Mitrovica region as well as at the national level, Caritas has developed every activity on the principle of peace and love by challenging all political, economic and social obstacles that have left 30% of Kosovars unemployed and 15 % in extreme poverty.
As in many parts of the world, peace in Kosovo continues to be vulnerable to many people, whether from a general or individual point of view. Caritas will continue to offer more opportunities for people to build a prosperous society, promoting peace and social diversity as the values of our society.
We cannot say that overall peace prevails or that reconciliation has taken place properly, but we can say that Caritas Kosovo will continue to contribute to peace building, especially in the Mitrovica region, and to promote peace nationwide, either through concrete activities or by its own concrete example with multi-ethnic and multi-religious staff who are an embodiment of the values of love, peace, solidarity and charity.
Be the change, SMILE!