Osojane church with a view on Metohija valley

Vesti, Frankfurt, Germany (Serbian language émigré newspaper)
August 15, 2002 (Text in Serbian)

FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF SERB RETURNS TO THEIR HOMES CELEBRATED IN OSOJANE

METOHIJA*, A LAND BOTH HOLY AND 'CURSED'

*Metohija (from Gr. metohia - monastery lands) - traditional Serb name for the western part of today's UN adminstered Province of Kosovo, between Pec and Istok in the north and Prizren in the south

Out of 2,000 pre-war inhabitants today there are approximately 250 well-protected returnees, including 55 children, living in Osojane - About 60 people are still living in prefabricated tent-huts covered with nylon tarp

By Radmila Loncar

Locals in front of the damaged church in Osojane"You were most courageous and we know that bravery always bears good fruits. It is to your credit that you are the first who last year dared to return here where not a single house was still standing. Today you have more than 50 inhabited homes and over 20 in the final stages of construction. When you arrived last year, there were no children; today I see over 50 of them. This is a sign that our Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija has a future in this region, not only an illustrious past. May God grant that the end of year brings the return of all those who have yet to return to their centuries-old homes."

In a homily during the celebration of the one year anniversary of Serb returns to Osojane, these are some of the words of Bishop Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, who blessed the 250 local residents.

Bishop Amfilohije added that the return of the Osojane Serbs further encouraged recent returns to the village of Bicha, as well as those who are due to return this fall to Siga, Brestovik, Ljevosa and a few other places in the holy and sacred land of Metohija.

Village with 55 children

What is destroyed is slowly restoredOsojane is a Serb village in a Metohija valley bearing the same name located between Klina and Istok, towns in which today no Serbs remain. It is a part of Istok municipality. Before onslaughts of Albanian extremists it was completely abandoned and destroyed after the deployment of KFOR in the summer of 1999. It differs from many similar places in Kosovo and Metohija in that it is the destination of the first Serb returnees during the three years of international administration of the southern Serbian province. Out of 2,000 pre-war inhabitants today there are approximately 250 well-protected returnees, including 55 children, living in Osojane. They are protected by Spanish KFOR troops.

"After several unsuccessful attempts, the first group of 54 Serbs in Osojane returned the night of August 12 of last year with a strong escort and unprecedented security by Spanish and Italian KFOR troops. Our return was organized by UNHCR, UNMIK and KFOR. The Pec Patriarchate and the monks of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral also helped. They housed us in tents, and then moved us into the tent-huts and life began," says Gojko Djuric, one of the first returnees and head of the local office.

55 houses inhabited

.Life in tent-huts is difficultDuring the past year, says Djuric, 72 houses were constructed. So far 55 are inhabited while the rest will be completely finished and ready to be moved into within a matter of days.

However, 60 people are still living in groups in prefabricated tent-huts covered by nylon tarp. These huts have a single room furnished with two-three beds and an equal number of chairs.

New returnees are also coming. On Wednesday evening, the first anniversary of the returns, a full bus of them arrived. Individuals from the "tent-hut settlement" use a common prefabricated kitchen and a shared, improvised bathroom with no heated water. The village has a local administrative office, an elementary school, a first-aid station, a store, a café and the essential KFOR base housing the Spanish troops which protect it.

"They are good to us, even though they are not Serbs. We cannot complain. They help us. Some of them are learning a few words of Serbian so we can communicate more easily. You can see for yourself that they don't mind coming to our celebrations. They don't mind a shot of good plum brandy or joining us in a Serb folk dance," says Milivoje Repanovic, a local senior.

Sweet scent of everlasting

His granddaughter, seven year-old Stojana, shyly passes out small bouquets of sweet-smelling everlasting to the visitors from Belgrade as mementos of the flowers found in Metohija fields and reminders to come back and visit soon.

The local residents of Osojane are hospitable and well-meaning. We saw for ourselves how much they like to receive visitors. They greet their visitors with (the traditional Serb) bread and salt, and with open hearts.

Bishop Amfilohije is welcomedDuring the celebration of the first anniversary of their return and in honor of the village patron saint's day, Holy Maccabees (the beginning of the fast before the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos), Holy Liturgy was served by Bishop Amfilohije and the monks of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral and the Diocese of Raska and Prizren in the churchyard of the destroyed Church of the Holy Archangels. The bishop then gave Communion to the faithful and was especially delighted by the children, who waited patiently in line to receive Holy Communion.

"Metohija is a land both holy and 'cursed' because only after have you have been forced to leave do you realize what you have lost and that you must return here. There is no other place where you can live and survive," adds Gojko Djuric with a sigh.

The entire village came to the patron saint's day feast, as did guests from neighboring Serb enclaves, political representatives from Zubin Potok, representatives of the Yugoslav Secretariat for Religions, who presented an icon and an icon lamp for the village church, as well as Momcilo Trajkovic, a member of the Serbian Parliament, and reporters from Belgrade, whose visit was made possible by the Secretariat for Religions.

The local residents rotate the feast bread with the bishop (in accordance with Orthodox custom). He recites a prayer which is followed by a thunderous response by the men which echoes to heaven: "O, Lord, have mercy. Grant us mercy, o, Lord!" Tears gather in the eyes of the guests. Everyone senses that this prayer lives in the hearts and souls of the Osojane returnees as a plea to God to help them survive in their sacred land of Metohija.

The music did not stop nor the dancing until late into the night of August 13 in the Osojane elementary school. Both young and old were on their feet and everyone sang almost every song there is dedicated to Kosovo.

Translated by S. Lazovic

School with 30 students

Stevan Ostojic, the director of the school in Osojane, tells us that the previous school year ended with 14 students while the new one will begin with more than 30 students in Grades 1 to 8. They intend to open a secondary school as well, either a college preparatory school or a secondary school for economics. The decision will be made soon because there are several secondary school-age students.

The building of the Rados Tosic School has also been heavily damaged. Today it employs seven teachers and professors. They would like to open a library, too.

Communion of children
Metropolitan Amfilohije communes children from Osojane

SMALL PHOTOS:

1.Locals in front of the damaged church in Osojane
2.Life in tent-huts is difficult
3.Bishop Amfilohije is welcomed
4. What is destroyed is slowly restored


Related article:

Osojane: Creating Life Among Ruins, Aug 17, 2002
Between International Community's Projects and Reality, Danas, July 23, 02
First Serb Returnees Come Back to Osojane, Aug 13, 2001


VESTI-FRANKFURT
15.AVGUST, 2002.


U OSOJANIMA PROSLAVLJENA GODIŠNJICA POVRATKA SRBA U ZAVICAJ

METOHIJA SVETA I "PROKLETA"

Radmila Loncar

• Od 2.000 meštana, koliko ih je bilo pre pocetka rata, sada u Osojanima živi oko 250 dobro cuvanih povratnika sa 55 svojih mališana • Oko 60 ljudi još uvek živi u montažnim drvenim kontejnerima, prekrivenim najlonom


Locals in front of the damaged church in OsojaneMeštani ispred oštecene crkve o Osojanima


Vi ste bili najhrabriji i zna se da srcanost uvek rada dobrim plodovima. Treba da vam služi na cast što ste prvi rizikovali da se vratite prošle godine ovde, gde nije bilo nijedne kuce, a danas imate više od 50 useljenih domova i preko 20 cija je izgradanja u završnoj fazi. Kad ste dolazili prošle godine, nije bilo nijednog deteta, a sada ih vidim preko 50. To je pokazatelj da naša kosovsko-metohijska srpska zajednica na ovim prostorima ima buducnost, kao što ima i slavnu prošlost. Neka bi dao Bog da dogodine ovde budu i svi oni koji tek treba da se vrate na svoja ognjišta.

Ovo je u prigodnoj besedi, na proslavi prve godišnjice povratka Srba u Osojane, istakao mitropolit crnogorsko-primorski Amfilohije, blagosiljajuci 250 meštana.

On je napomenuo da su ovi Srbi svojim povratkom dali podstrek potonjim povratnicima u selo Bica, kao i onima koji bi u toku jeseni trebalo da se vrate u Sigu, Brestovik, LJevošu i još, kako je mitropolit kazao, poneko mesto ove svete i blagoslovene zemlje Metohije.

.Life in tent-huts is difficult
Težak život u kontejneru

Selo sa 55 mališana


Osojane je srpsko selo u istoimenoj metohijskoj dolini smešteno izmedu Kline i Istoka, gradova u kojima danas više nema Srba. Pripada opštini Istok. Pod naletom albanskih ekstremista potpuno je opustelo i razrušeno posle dolaska KFOR, tokom leta 1999. godine. Od ostalih slicnih mesta na Kosovu i Metohiji razlikuje se po tome što je ono prvo u koje su se za tri godine medunarodne uprave u južnoj srpskoj pokrajini vratili prvi prognani Srbi. Od 2.000 meštana, koliko ih je bilo pre pocetka rata, sada u Osojanima živi oko 250 dobro cuvanih povratnika sa 55 svojih mališana. O njima brinu pripadnici španskog kontingenta KFOR.

- Posle nekoliko neuspelih pokušaja, prva grupa od 54 Srba u Osojane se vratila u noci izmedu 12. i 13. avgusta prošle godine, pod jakom pratnjom i nevidenim obezbedenjem španskih i italijanskih vojnika KFOR, a povratak su nam organizovali UNHCR, UNMIK i KFOR. Pomogli su takode Pecka patrijaršija i monasi Eparhije raško-prizrenske i Mitropolije crnogorsko-primorske. Smestili su nas u šatore, potom preselili u kontejnere i život je poceo - seca se Gojko Ðuric, jedan od prvih povratnika i predsednik mesne kancelarije.

Useljeno u 55 kuca

Za proteklih godinu dana u Osojanima su, veli on, sagradene 72 kuce. Do sada je useljeno 55, a za koji dan sve ce biti potpuno završene i opremljene za stanovanje.

Medutim, 60 ljudi još uvek živi grupisano u montažnim drvenim kontejnerima, prekrivenim najlonom. Ove barake imaju jednu prostoriju, u njoj sto, dva-tri kreveta i isto toliko stolica.

Bishop Amfilohije is welcomed
Dobrodošlica mitropolitu Amfilohiju

A pristižu i novi povratnici. U sredu predvece, na dan prve godišnjice, stigao ih je pun autobus. LJudi iz "kontejner naselja" koriste zajednicku montažnu kuhinju i zajednicko improvizovano kupatilo u kojem vodu greje samo sunce s neba. Selo ima svoju opštinsku podkancelariju, osnovnu školu, ambulantu, prodavnicu, kafanu i, neizbežnu bazu KFOR gde su smešteni Španci koji ih cuvaju.

- Dobri su, samo što nisu naši. Ne možemo da se požalimo. Pomažu nam. Uce pomalo i srpski da se lakše sporazumemo. Vidite i sami da se rado odazivaju i na naše proslave, vole dobru šljivovicu da potegnu, pa i u kolo da se s nama uhvate - veli starina Milivoje Repanovic.

What is destroyed is slowly restored
Porušeno se složno obnavlja

Carobni miris smilja


NJegova unuka, sedmogodišnja Stojana, buketicima mirisnog smilja stidljivo dariva gošce iz Beograda - da ih prate carobni mirisi cveca sa metohijskih polja i podsete da im ponovo dodju u goste..

NJegova unuka, sedmogodišnja Stojana, buketicima mirisnog smilja stidljivo dariva gošce iz Beograda - da ih prate carobni mirisi cveca sa metohijskih polja i podsete da im ponovo dodju u goste..

LJudi u Osojanima su veoma gostoljubivi i dobronamerni. Uverili smo se da se od srca raduju svakoj poseti, goste docekuju pogacom i solju, otvorenog srca.

Povodom prve godišnjice povratka i u cast seoske slave, Svetih Makaveja bogoslužio je mitropolit Amfilohije sa monaštvom Mitropolije crnogorsko-primorske i Eparhije raško-prizrenske u porti razrušenog seoskog hrama Svetih Arhangela. Zatim je pricestio vernike, narocito se radujuci mališanima koji su strpljivo stajali u redu za sveto pricešce.

- Sveta i "prokleta" je Metohija, jer tek kad si primoran da odeš shvatiš šta si izgubio i da moraš da joj se vratiš. Da nigde drugde, osim ovde, ne možeš i ne umeš da živiš i preživiš - ote se uzdah Gojku Ðuricu.

Na slavu se sleglo celo selo, na gozbu stigli gosti iz susednih srpskih enklava, celnici Zubinog Potoka, predstavnici jugoslovenskog Sekretarijata za vere koji su darivali jednu ikonu i kandilo za seosku crkvu, zatim Moma Trajkovic, poslanik u Skupštini Srbije i novinari iz Beograda, koje je doveo Savezni sekretarijat za vere.

Meštani sa mitropolitom okrecu slavski kolac. On ocita molitvu, a onda se gromoglasno prolomi, nebesa zapara: "Gospode pomiluj, podaj Gospode", iz grla svih muških glava. Gostima suze zaiskriše. Svi osetiše da se osojanskim povratnicima ova molitva iz srca i duše otkinula, kao vapaj i krik Bogu da im pomogne da opstanu na svojoj svetoj metohijskoj zemlji.

U prizemlju osojanske osnovne škole 13. avgusta, do kasno u noc, muzika nije prestajala, kolo stalo nije. Na nogama je i staro i mlado, iz svih grla orila se pesma, gotovo svaka Kosovu posvecena.


Škola sa 30 ucenika

Stevan Ostojic, direktor škole u Osojanima nam prica da su ovu školsku godinu završili sa 14, novu ce poceti sa više od 30 ucenika od prvog do osmog razreda. Nameravaju da otvore i jednu srednju - gimnaziju ili ekonomsku, odlucice se za neki dan, jer ima stasalih srednjoškolaca.

Zgrada škole "Radoš Tošic" je takodje razarana, a u njoj danas radi sedam nastavnika i profesora. Želja im je da otvore i biblioteku.


Osojane church - Life amidst barbed wire