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an outsider’s eye, Kosovo appears to be on the mend. But a
UCLA family-practice resident learns firsthand that the scars of
war are never far from the surface.
by Sarah Carpenter
EMINE AND I and the rest of our small medical team bounced along
the winding, pockmarked roads of central Kosovo, the conversation
in the back of the Toyota Landcruiser took a personal turn.
had been working together for nearly three weeks, making the rounds
to about 20 clinics in remote villages tucked amid the province's
green hills. Emine, a Kosovo Albanian nurse, took patients' vital
signs, gave them shots, kept track of paperwork. I focused largely
on prenatal care, listening to fetal heartbeats, measuring pregnant
bellies, distributing vitamins.
through the bumpy ride, Emine asked if I had any photos of my family.
I pulled out some snapshots of my niece and nephew to show her,
then I asked about hers.
used to live near here - me, my husband, our two daughters and two
sons," she said. "The Kosovo Liberation Army and Serb forces fought
intensely in this region. My husband, a doctor, helped wounded KLA
day, Serbs came to her house and burned it down, she said. Her father
was shot to death. She and her children fled to the capital, but
her husband stayed behind. A short time later, Serbian soldiers
attacked a home where he was treating KLA fighters. "They killed
him and nearly a dozen other men," she said.
all the time we had been working together, Emine had never mentioned
any of this to me. But when we arrived in her former village, I
saw it was all too true. She pointed out her house, or what was
left of it: a chimney.