by Ljiljana STALETOVIC
Zoran Djordjevic, director of the St. Sava Culture Hall from Istok and the editor in chief of Hvosno magazine, which was temporarily displaced to Leposavic after the expulsion of Serbs in June 1999, thanked us for the gift and said that these books will find readers among the local population that still respects the written word. The Osojane library has some 3,000 volumes.
"Once we recovered from the first shock and found ourselves here in Leposavic, we decided to continue from where we stopped because life goes on. We decided to begin with the preservation of our heritage. We resumed the work of the Istok Culture Hall and our publishing house and soon thereafter, with the help of the Serbian Ministry of Culture, the first issue of Hvosno magazine was published. The first issue of this magazine, which is published every alternate month and concerns itself with issues of culture and history, was published nine years ago and we are presently preparing issue 43. This magazine will one day represent a rich testimony of our heritage, as well as of all that has befallen us," said Djordjevic.
"Today three employees of this hall are in Leposavic and four are in Osojane, one of 17 returnee villages in Kosovo and Metohija, where they are preparing the return of the Istok Culture Hall," said Djordjevic.
Our collocutor believes that conditions for this now exist. When they move to Osojane, they will continue publishing Hvosno, publishing books and organizing cultural events begun while in exile, such as the Gorazdevac and Hvosno Oaks art colonies and the Old Serbian Sources traditional folk art show. This year they are planning an icon-painting colony in (the monasteries of) Gorioc and Budisavci, which 11 icon-painters are scheduled to attend. Djordjevic is convinced that Osojane will become the center of cultural creativity in Metohija.
The Serbs were expelled from this village and the villages in Istok municipality on June 13, 1999. The Albanians torched their houses, and when the first 20 returnees came to the Osojane Valley on August 13, 2000, they accepted the difficult task of bringing the village back to life. And they succeeded. The Scepanovic family, the Duric family, the Radenovic family... This winter smoke was rising from the chimneys of 120 houses with some 300 inhabitants. They hope that the remaining 20 houses will also soon be inhabited.
The local residents of Osojane, as well as nearby Kos and Suvi Lukavac, are reluctant to remember the evil that befell them and their life in refugee camps. Today they are in their own homes here. In Osojane they have a primary medical facility, a shop, a restaurant. They work 120 hectares of land; they work in their fields and gardens; with the help of humanitarian organizations they are renewing their livestock... They hope that soon in the Osojane Valley, rich in lignite and waterways and located at the foot of historic Hvosno, the bells of the torched church of the Holy Archangel Gabriel will ring out, thanks in part to a donation from the Greek government.
Here one can hear the laughter and jesting and clamor of children. Djordjevic tells us that 40 students attend the elementary school, five of them from the nearby returnee village of Suvi Lukovac. There are 10 students in the secondary school and 12 children in the pre-school. It would appear that the imitation of life has in fact transformed into real life. Nevertheless...
The land in Metohija, said Djordjevic, has not been sold. The Serbs have a place to return but returns are obstructed, Albanians are making lists [of people permitted to return] and it is still not safe. One can leave from Osojane twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, with a KFOR escort as far as North Mitrovica. There is no longer a permanent security checkpoint at the entrance to the village but Spanish KFOR troops and UNMIK police patrol regularly. The ghetto is, after all, the ghetto.