Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ferizaj Press

Crowdsourcing News In Ferizaj

Local news enthusiasts in Ferizaj have for some time now been enjoying an up-to-date coverage of their city’s happenings via an online news portal called Ferizaj Press. More often than not, it covers events before any major news sites get their hands on the local scoop. So how do they do it?

To find out, I spoke with Partin Imeri, a 22 years old student in Software Engineering  at the University of Business Technology (UBT). Hailing from Ferizaj, he also happens to be the founder of Ferizaj Press.

“We’ve only launched in March of this year and on average we already get over 40,000 visitors a month with over 200,000 page views a month,” explains Partin while he proudly shows me Ferizaj Press’ analytic dashboard. But who is “we” I ask. The question refers to the innovative aspect of Ferizaj Press that gives it a competitive edge over more established and traditional news outlets. “We,” explains Partin, “are civil society; myself, my dad, and Ferizajlitë who seize every opportunity they can to capture news they stumble on and submit it to our news portal.”

Like‘s corruption reporting system, Ferizaj Press is a platform that engages civil society into adopting an active role in generating up-to-date online content. For Ferizaj Press, this means that they freely receive an average of 9 submissions a day and many more newsworthy references. “What this means is that I only have to worry about fact-checking,” Partin remarks, “the news just comes to me on its own.”

By successfully crowdsourcing a lot of the heavy lifting involved in gathering data, sites like and Ferizaj Press have demonstrated that citizen involvement is an invaluable resource, particularly when promoting transparency values while fighting for freedom of press or against corruption.

More Than Remittances From Our Diaspora

Muhamet Aliu is the recipient of a brand new house. His family of six no longer fears the harsh winters. It is through the generous donation of Mr. Qemajl Ruhani that another poverty stricken family finds hope and comfort in a warm and cozy house. “It is a feeling I cannot describe, I really do not know how to thank Mr. Ruhani, this is  very human of him” explains Mr. Aliu.

Currently living in Hanover, Qemajl Ruhani explains that he had been aware of this family’s condition and is extremely happy that the house has been finished ahead of the cold winter.

Mr. Ruhani is confident that the Diaspora is very giving and such activities impact the lives of the people in Kosovo directly. However, he says there is a lot more that could be done, he invites his fellow diaspora community members and civil organizations to take the lead and find and help such families in need.







The Story Of Nine Kosovars In Germany

Sehnsucht im Koffer or Lives in a Suitcase is the title of a recently published book containing the stories of nine Kosovars living in Germany. The book provides an insight into the way their lives had changed over time, the struggles and little victories that brought them to where they stand. As a collection of autobiographies, the reader will have the chance to learn upon the reasons why many Kosovars throughout different times have sought to Germany, and have traveled back to Kosovo.

Mehreme Behrami is among the storytellers. Her long journey to Germany and back is movie worthy. She remembers the day she was forced to leave Kosovo, with her grandmother at the doorstep. Years later, she will be forced to leave her new home once again, this time back to Kosovo.”After the end of the war, we received calls from the immigration authorities on the family to leave the country. If we do not go voluntarily, they would pick us up at night” is what Mehreme Behrami tells in her story.

Eight other participants share their stories to offer a remarkable record of how migration impacts lives and in particular shapes the society of Kosovo.

Sehnsucht im Koffer is written by Jeton Neziraj and Timon Perabu.


Two awards for BOTA at the Reykjavik International Film Festival

The movie Bota (The World), directed by Iris Elezi and Thomas Logoreci, was presented both the FIPRESCI Award and the Audience Award at the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF).

“The movie we decided to reward first seduced us for its atmospheric approach of what we thought was a pretty simple story. Then it tricked us in the most clever way by adding some unexpected political elements in a storyline that became more and more complex. Finally we got caught by the beautiful melancholy of this contemporary tale” reads the official RIFF page regarding Bota.

Bota, a production of “Era Film” has not had its premiere in Albania yet. It has , however, had its world premiere during the famous film festival in the Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, where it was awarded the “Fedora” prize.



Albanian flavors in Gourmundo International in Finland

Gourmundo 2014 is an international event held in the town of Tampere, Finland. Chefs from around the world bring their most representative dish and pastries of their place of origin. This year the event has brought together teams from Argentina, Peru, Nicaragua, Italy, Kosovo and Albania.

The Kosovo and Albanian team is represented by Përparim Babalia (Gjakova) and Sokol Prenga (Tirana).

The menu of the two Kosovo/Albania representatives is the following, and promised to be a delicious menu:

  • Fish Wild trout crudo with cold shoulder
  • Fillets pork (sous vide) cooked at a low temp, flavored by the pistil (mountains of Albania) mashed potatoes with green apple Korca.
  • Cheesecake with cornstarch and barbarize, pink petals cream, caramelised nuts and glikosh trio, watermelon, fig, walnut and wild figs.

Have a look at some of the other delicious Albanian dishes and learn how such delicacies are made.

Ilir Latifi And His Kosovan Roots

Ilir Latifi is climbing up the ladder of success in the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). At his recent appearance for UFC Sweden and, Ilir tells some of his secrets to success.

The story begins with his family, particularly with his parents migrating from Kosovo to Sweden. Like every migrant father, Ilir’s dad held two jobs of great physical demand.Coming from a big family, with eighteen other siblings, his father learned to fend for himself early on. This in turn brought Ilir his first hero, his father. Ilir however attributes his strength to something deeper: “My ancestors (form Kosovo)  were farmers. They were hard-working, agricultural people. I think that’s where my strength comes from.”


Ilir remembers his early upbringing as full of challenge and hardships, especially with the location of his house and the bad neighborhood. For Ilir Latifi, the MMA and gym practice are a lot more than building muscle and fighting. The discipline and honor taught through MMA saved his future and are the meaning of life itself. Ilir plans to open up two gyms, one in Sweden and one in Kosovo, with the aims of helping the struggling youth and promoting a self taught disciplined life. “I see MMA gyms the same way I see schools. It’s a place for people to find belief in themselves and to find their potential.”

Jamarbër Marko’s poetry honored in London

 Jamarbër Marko’s poetry collections Pro Nobis and Coincidentally on Purpose  were presented on a poetry night organized in London. The collections were published by the  ‘PA’ Publishing House. The event was organized by The Albanian Center, which has just launched its activities in the UK.


Feride Berisha, the publisher of the collections, spoke about the life and work of  Jamarbër Marko. She emphasized that Jamarbër Marko created his own identity as a poet, despite of the fact that he was the son of the famous writer Petro Marko and the famous painter Safo Marko.

The evening was held in a pleasant spirit accompanied with a warm conversation about various aspects of the life and work of the poet Jamarbër Marko.


The original article was posted at Zëri. Click here to read the original article.

Ermira Babamusta to receive the U.S. President’s Award for National Service

By: Bajram Shala

Ermira Babamusta will receive the White House national award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, during National Volunteer Week, 2014. The award was created from the White House to honor those exceptional individuals who live a life of service and inspire others to make positive change around the world.

The President’s National Service Program was established in 2003 by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation (the Council). The Council is a federal agency that helps build and strengthen the American nation through the works of AmeriCorps, VISTSA, FEMA Corps, Senior Corps, etc.  The award has been presented annually to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to the community, who serve the national interests of the United States for world peace, community building, cultural and civic engagement.

“My Administration is dedicated to engaging Americans through service. Through the Corporation for National and Community Service, we administer programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, and we have designed innovative initiatives such as School Turnaround AmeriCorps and VetSuccess AmeriCorps. In giving their time and talent, our volunteers can learn new skills and focus their vision, energy, and passion on projects ranging from improving disaster relief, delivering better education, and assisting returning veterans and military families. And by establishing the Task Force on Expanding National Service, we are creating new opportunities to support our communities through service,” said President Barack Obama during the presidential proclamation of National Volunteer Week.

Ermira Babamusta with Senator Harry Reid, Washington DC, 2013

Ermira Babamusta with Senator Harry Reid, Washington DC, 2013

Ermira Babamusta is a leader in the peace and democracy movement. During her work at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, she advocated for human rights and created strategic plans for the UN field missions. As a community outreach and capacity building coordinator to the AmeriCorps in New York, Ermira organized emergency preparedness and homeland security activities, in collaboration with the Red Cross, NYPD and the Department of Homeland Security. She continued her diplomatic and foreign affairs work while working at the United States Congress and for the Obama Administration.

Recently Ermira worked as a regional director for Borgen Project, and fundraised for Charity Miles, the World Food Programme, the UN Foundation – Girl UP, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Ermira Babamusta has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Woman of Courage Award by Kessel Peace Institute; 2014 Humanitarian Award by Albanian Roots; recognition from Congressman Mark Kennedy to Ermira Babamusta for furthering America’s diplomacy and to her father, Neki Babamusta, for building democracy between Europe and the US; and the Humanitarian Award by US Congress in 2013, for her efforts in Kosovo and strengthening the American-Albanian ties.

Valmir Dobruna Aims For Best Euro Craftsman

Valmir Dobruna is not your average plastering craftsman. Originally from Malisheva, Kosovo, he has been a plasterer for only a year now, however he has been ranked as among 10 best in Germany.

Valmir has been selected to represent Germany alongside his colleague Marc Armbrüster in the plastering craftsmanship competition “Euro Skills” in France. For Albinfo, Valmir explains the challenge ahead: “For 18 hours, in 3 days, our team of 10 people should construct a 2.20m x 2.20m structure and 2.10m height.” The competition includes 7 European countries.


DeutcheHandwerksZeitung/ Die EuroSkills im Blick

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Albanian Film Festival opens in New York and Boston

By: Julian Zyla

The countdown has started. Starting on October 2nd, one of the main venues of the artistic scene in New York City will speak Albanian. For an entire week.

At the School of Visual Arts’ theatre in Manhattan dozens of feature, short and documentary films from Albanian filmmakers or with Albanian themes will be shown. Famous artists such as Tinka Kurti, Çun Lajçi and Ermal Mamaqi will travel to the Big Apple to be part of this event, which will run from October 2nd to October 9th. Tickets are on sale now.

But how did the “Albanian Film Festival” start?

It was 2012, the year of the 100th anniversary of Albania’s independence. In its honor, the organizers of the Festival had decided to run 100 films. But Mother Nature was about to test their Albanian resilience.

“Hurricane Sandy had hit during those days, and as part of its aftermath,” says Ariot Myrtaj, founder and artistic director of AFF,  “on the day of our opening the TriBeCa Cinemas, our special venue that year, was closed. I will never forget the feeling of seeing the theatre closed and deserted, just a few hours before our guests would arrive for the debut of our Festival.”

When the guests arrived, everything was ready to go, thanks to the efforts of Ariot and the team. Their efforts have now made the Albanian Film Festival a real institution in New York, that is about to open its doors to movie and culture lovers for the third consecutive year.

Along with competing films, the Festival will also feature gems of Albanian cinema, such as “Përrallë nga e kaluara” (Fable from the past). Yes, Gjino will be asked if he has “reached the figs yet” on the big screen, in Manhattan. That is on the third day (October 4th) and it is a free show.

“Being part of the creative team of the Albanian Film Festival has been very rewarding and inspiring,” says Rina Lila, a graduate student at Columbia University.

“As Albanians, we are all trying to make the Festival be as big of a window as possible for Albanian cinema, artists and culture in New York City. And it is succeeding in doing that for the third consecutive year,” adds Lila, who also serves as the advisor for the Albanian Permanent Mission at the United Nations.

Among the achievements of this third edition of the AFF, Ariot Myrtaj mentions the rich and powerful program that the Festival boasts (, along with interesting collaborations with other important film festivals.

“The winner of our short film category will automatically be part of the New York City Independent Film Festival,” he says. “This is an application of one of our main goals, which is to promote Albanian culture, not only by bringing New Yorkers to our Festival, but in any way we can. We know how this ends: they will love us.”

Another way in which the AFF is promoting Albanian culture is by helping young filmmakers, who cannot afford to produce their movies. The Festival’s Screenplay Competition will choose the script of a short film that will be funded by AFF.

The Albanian Film Festival is brought to life by the Albanian Artists Association, a non profit lead by Mr. Myrtaj, an energetic actor himself.

They invite us all to join the celebration of Albanian movies, tradition and heritage at the SVA Theatre in New York City, from October 2nd to October 9th. After-parties every night.

Albanian Film Festival will also run in Boston, on October 11 and 12.