The war in Kosovo in 1996-1999 created one of Europe’s worst refugee crises – as over a million people fled their homes. Once they returned, many they found their homes burned to the ground. Schools had been destroyed, and thousands of dangerous landmines had been planted throughout the country.
In addition to material destruction, many men died during the conflict, leaving female-headed households struggling to provide for themselves, and widows and orphans are extremely vulnerable.
We began post-war relief and reconstruction in Kosovo in 1999, aiming to help families become self-sufficient and get back to normality.
Our initial intervention was to rebuild homes, schools and essential infrastructure, such as key roads, as well as distribute medicine and food during Ramadan and Korban. As well as supporting orphans with sponsorship, we run a microfinance programme which gives out small interest-free loans to single mothers, enabling them to start their own businesses and support themselves and their children in the long-term.
This programme continues to be very successful in providing many families with a way out of poverty, as when the loan is repaid, it is loaned out again to another family; and this continues again and again.