Between strength and fragility

Life after war- In conversation with a humedica team member

by Dr. Andrea Kranen-Sutter/Martina Zelt,  2014/01/25

How do things go on in a former war region, when the world public is no longer interested in it and when the media have since long picked out another arena as a central theme?

Especially the women are still suffering from the consequences of the cruel and bloody fights which took place in Kosovo more than fifteen years ago. They show an outward impression of strength and pride, but inside they have been marked by grief and exhaustion. In an interview, pediatrician Dr. Andrea Kranen-Sutter, whose first humedica action was in Niger in 2010, talks about the experiences she has made, treating people in a mobile clinic in Kosovo:

Mrs. Dr. Kranen-Sutter, you have learned to know the Kosovo by your medical action for humedica. Is the war just a memory or still a palpable presence in the people’s lives? How did you experience this as a doctor?

The war is still very present. Many patients are still suffering today from post-traumatic strain. Besides other things, they are suffering from depressions with sleep disorders and anxiety attacks. Many explicitly tell me that have been suffering from these problems only since the war.

The use – or abuse in some extend – of psychotropic drugs startled me. Well, the people are just trying to handle their problems in some way. This is very difficult, especially because they are expected to leave the past behind them without a word and without a complaint. So, the process of coming to terms with what has happened doesn’t really exist and so perceive everywhere this feeling of being a victim. And this also seems to paralyze the will for building up a new Kosovo.

Which is your impression of the country Kosovo? Have the visible damages on houses and streets been repaired yet?

When you walk in the streets, it strikes you that there are old people, many children and tired women, but no middle-aged men. Also in this way the war shows its clear traces.

In the towns there are still many destroyed houses. Some of them are being left in this state as a memorial. The many empty and decayed factories were very depressing for me. Apparently, the war has disrupted any productive industry.

By the many Kosovars who went abroad, some money is coming into the country now, to build up houses. This, at least, gives some hope.

How has your work as a doctor been accepted by the local patients?

This has been very varied in the detail, however, we have been greeted thankfully everywhere. My translator Korab, a very emphatic young man, translated the often very detailed anamnesis with the patience of a saint, even if it was about female disorders, which visibly was very difficult for him. He showed much sensitivity and thus made the examinations as acceptable as possible for everybody.

On the whole, the patients’ thankfulness was overwhelming. The fact that there was someone who took the time for them and who distributed important medicine, already seemed to have an important calming effect.

Have there been any experiences during your time in Kosovo which affected you much?

As a pediatrician, the disabled children who, out of shame, are being kept hidden at home, particularly touched my heart. Moreover, in Kosovo, there aren’t any special education centers for disabled people. Medicine has to be paid for by themselves, but mostly they don’t have any money to pay for it.

There is only very little treatment for epilepsy and there is neither physiotherapy, nor occupational therapy, nor any wheelchairs, glasses or other medical supplies. There is utterly everything missing which could help disabled persons. As there are no possibilities for families to go to another country, the treatment in a foreign country like Germany isn’t possible neither. This often makes me helpless and sad.

What gave you strength during your on-site operation?

My team gave me most of my strength. Cindy and Dave Johnson, the missionary couple we lived with in Krushe e Vogel, were very encouraging. And Alban, the local organizer was of great value to me. The young people in this team are full of hope and want their home country to become a country worth living in.

Thank you very much for these intensive insights into your work and into the country Kosovo!

humedica is not only committed to the catastrophe regions of this world, but also provides long-term help in regions like the Kosovo. This help is of inestimable value for the local people and shows continual charity – also behind drawn curtains of the public interest.

Please help us to be able to provide this long-term help also in the future and support our commitment with a directed donation. Thank you very much!

      humedica e. V.
      Reference “Kosovo”
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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