Well, I’ve been in Kosovo now for exactly two weeks. And in the past two weeks, I have learned so much about this land! I am here for an Environmental Studies internship working with an organization, Water for Life. Our home base is in Skenderaj, which is about an hour west of the capital city, Pristina. We make a fifteen-minute commute to the town of Tushile where we have a goal of reaching ten houses in my two months here. As of now, most wells in the town of Tushile have already been dug. However, we are helping the community improve their wells to USAID standards and requirements. These standards ensure safer, cleaner water for the families.
We are also installing electric pumps, piping, and storage units to the houses in order to create more easily accessible sources of water. Because the cleaning, cooking, and washing are primarily the job of the women, this allows their work to be almost cut in half. Water for Life requires each family to pay 10% of the project’s costs. This has averaged about 25 Euros per well/per family (~$37). Funding through churches, families, and individuals who desire to make a change in the water-world provides the rest of the finances.
Right now I am living in a two-bedroom apartment with nine people. Yes, I said nine people. Our leader, his wife and their 2, 4, and 6 year old children share a room. Another intern Christina and I share a room, while interns Jonathan and Besnik sleep on the couches in the living room. We haven’t had running water for more than an hour/day in over five days. Yes, I said five days. Whenever we have running water, we run to fill about fifty empty 1-liter water bottles and some buckets. However, with this many people, it lasts maybe two days. Baby-wipe showers have been a requirement for cleaning.
Speaking of plastic bottles, the only source of “guaranteed clean” drinking water is through the purchasing of 6-pack, 1 liter bottles of water running anywhere from1-3 Euros a pack. This is expensive, wasteful, and extremely inconvenient. When you think about an entire country living off of bottled water, you have to question waste management. And this is something that barely exits, while recycling doesn’t at all.
Between waste, lack of waste management, water contamination, lack of water at all, and poverty, this country seems to be on the verge of collapsing. For some unknown reason, the people continue barely making a living, while living in a barely-existing environmental state. My time here is the beginning of a desperation in striving to understand some of the world’s environmental crisis, not just America’s strife and struggle to be a power hungry “green” nation. Our eyes need to open to the helpless, hopeless nature of impoverished nation’s continuous battle with our natural environment, such as this place. My Kosova.