Cinzia D’Ambrosi – Kosovo Widows of War

As Kosovo ravages in the conflict, casualties are grieved.  Several women were left widowed- the majority without knowing where the bodies of the husband was, were left without closure.  As Kosovo emerged from the war, district areas such as Skenderaj where the war began and ended, was left incredibly destroyed. The village of Meje in the district of Gjakova was left without any men alive and widows with their children were the sole inhabitants of the village.

Women left widowed after the war were trying to piece together their lives whilst suffering from emotional and sometimes physical trauma. Their accounts did not differ much from one to another; their husbands and sons were taken away in the middle of the night never to be seen again. Some men were reported missing even after months- widows could not make peace with the death of their loved ones. With their lives still pending with many questions, women were left with their children without any means of sustainment and with their homes hardly habitable. The conditions were very dire, women and their children lived in rooms without windows, with a tiny stove for cooking and a mattress on the floor to sleep, eat and sit on.  More fortunate widows and their children were able to take shelter with relatives living in better conditions. 

In Mitrovica, women widowed were receiving 60Euros per month to live on and support themselves and their children. With this meagre sum, they could hardly make ends meet. One of the charities, Medicos del Mundo, created a number of workshops rooms where widows could meet one another and knit or sew together, whilst earning some money through the sales of their products. 

Over time the support from NGO’s and international aid organisation were directed away from Kosovo leaving behind a considerable number of women widowed without any means, living in homes that were half built or in some cases were left homeless.

Cinzia D’Ambrosi | Photojournalist
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