Kosovo, the smallest country in the Balkans, ranks as “one of the poorest countries in Europe,” struggling with its newfound freedom since declaring independence from Serbia in February 2008. This partially recognized state is home to around 1.8 million people, but Kosovars continue battling for international recognition and an improved economic outlook. With its most recent data in 2015, the World Bank reports that the country has a 17.6% national poverty rate, significantly higher than many European counterparts. As the nation contends with more than 300,000 impoverished Kosovars, five charities operating in Kosovo are making a difference.
5 Charities Making a Difference in Kosovo
- Sunny Hill Foundation. Dua Lipa, a world-renowned singer and songwriter, established the Sunny Hill Foundation in 2016 to advance the quality of life for Kosovars. The organization based in Pristina, Kosovo, works to improve Kosovan society, focusing on helping the country’s most vulnerable residents. The Sunny Hill Foundation raises money to donate to local cultural institutions and NGOs, with a requirement of only contributing to volunteer-led organizations. In 2018, this charity contributed €100,000 to 17 local institutions with focuses ranging from educating special needs children to advancing artistic talent. As a result of Lipa’s efforts to support the nation through the Sunny Hill Foundation, in August 2022 she became an honorary ambassador of Kosovo.
- The Ideas Partnership. This is a volunteer organization established in 2009 that focuses on improving education in Kosovo. The organization generally focuses on vulnerable ethnic groups in Kosovo, namely the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. Completed projects include sending 10 blind children to learn Braille and providing a kindergarten education for 30 children. One ongoing project assists six families with access to nutritious food. Through its network of volunteers, the Ideas Partnership is advancing opportunities for minority communities in Kosovo to increase their quality of life.
- PL4Y International. Since 1999, PL4Y International has promoted youth engagement in sports to encourage educational attainment and spur societal change. The NGO has helped more than 500,000 children across 15 countries through its programs. In Kosovo, PL4Y International launched a project called “YOUth can change the future for Kosovo,” concentrating on bridging ethnic, religious and cultural differences in Kosovan society through child sports. As Kosovars struggle to overcome the lasting societal impacts of the Kosovan 1998-1999 conflict and the lingering uncertainty associated with the nation’s international status, PL4Y International is working to bring Kosovan youth together and build a more promising future.
- Action for Mothers and Children (AMC). Also known as Akcioni per Nena dhe Femije, AMC concentrates on improving maternal and child health in Kosovo. Since the organization’s founding in 2013, AMC has specialized in projects focusing on education, fundraising, research and advocacy. AMC successfully developed five Women’s Health Resource Centers in Kosovo, helping to educate thousands of women on their pregnancies, deliveries and newborns. In August 2016, AMC expanded its services to an online platform called Beba-ks, offering remote assistance in English, Serbian and Albanian to deliver evidence-based information to new and expecting parents.
- HALO Trust. Beginning in 1988, the HALO Trust has worked to unearth landmines and prevent fatalities in former war-torn communities. Because of the 1990s conflict between Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army, landmines and other unexploded ammunition remain buried throughout Kosovo, presenting a fatal threat to Kosovan communities. Since then, 580 people faced injuries and fatalities in Kosovo due to these remaining explosives, driving the HALO Trust’s mission to remove and dispose of these threats. These ready-to-explode landmines are especially dangerous for poor Kosovans in rural areas. Many farmers, for instance, risk their lives by simply going into a field to maintain their crops. Therefore, the work of the HALO Foundation in Kosovo is critical to improving the lives of impoverished Kosovars.
From sponsoring youth sports and opening centers for reproductive health to unearthing landmines, these charitable institutions are truly improving Kosovan society. These philanthropic organizations are helping Kosovo achieve a brighter future with less poverty and fewer societal divisions.
– Michael Cardamone