British Kosovar Albanian’s celebrate independence

By Remzije Duli

More than 240 people from the Kosovar Albanian community in London celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Independence of Kosovo on February 23rd with a fun-packed event organised and run by the British Albanian Kosovar Council (BAKC) and British young people of Kosovar Albanian heritage.

The free event brought together family and friends of these young people. It featured a short drama written and performed by the boys of the Kosovar club at Parliament Hill School and a traditional Kosovar Albanian dance. Attendees came from across North London, where a great number of Kosovar Albanians live.

“We are trying to raise awareness about the need for more positive activities for young people,” said a young Kosovar Albanian active with the Kosovar Albanian Youth Against Violence campaign (KAYAV). Supported by BAKC, the campaign works with young people to tackle the threats of crime, violence and gangs in the community. “We also aim to fight the negative stereotypes about youth in society, which have been imposed by the media,” he added.

Every week, the young people of Parliament Hill School and William Ellis School in North London get together in an after school club run by BAKC. There, they find ways to express themselves with positive activities such as performing arts, traditional and contemporary dance, drama in their native Albanian language, sports and media classes.

BAKC works with Kosovar families and young people through programmes such as Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC). SFSC aims to improve parenting skills and promote positive family discipline. This programme helps parents work with their children to keep them safe, and supports them so they can make an impact on their neighbourhoods, while enhancing and retaining their history, culture and heritage.

“The importance of retaining the ethnic, cultural, family and spiritual roots is the driving force behind our attitudes, beliefs and behaviour as a community,” explained Beqir Shillova, a parent present at the event and a SFSC volunteer facilitator for BAKC. “We must encourage our young people to take part in the Kosova Club regularly and be able to showcase their work like tonight, where they celebrated the fourth anniversary of the independence of their country and were able to share their values and experiences with their friends from other communities within the school.”

In the past, BAKC has supported British young people with Kosovar Albanian backgrounds to organise similar events, with the aim to raise their voice against gangs, crimes and violence.

More information can be found at the KAYAV Campaign website and Facebook page and on the British Albanian Kosovar Council website.

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