It’s a rare sunny day here in the Roma/Ashkali/Egyptian (RAE) quarter of Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje; a welcome respite from a long spell of chilly, overcast winter weather.
It’s also the perfect day to skip school. Or, if you’re not enrolled in school – as is the case for nearly 15 per cent of the school-aged children in this impoverished neighbourhood – it’s the perfect day to skip your two-hour literacy and numeracy class at the local The Ideas Partnership (TIP) centre.
With a quiet focus, Hateme Krasniqi, an Ashkali woman in her mid-30s, keeps her eyes trained on the tip of her pencil as she carefully draws one letter after another to spell out her first name: HATEME. Today, bundled up in her winter coat while a chilly drizzle rains down outside. Hatemes hands are cold and red but increasingly well-practiced in writing her name. But this is something very new and very exciting for this mother of six from the marginalized Ashkali quarter of Fushe Kosove, Kosovo.