Friday, July 22, 2005

The Adventure Begins Tomorrow

I have just finished packing the three suitcases I am bringing with me to Kosovo. My clothing only takes up a portion of one bag. The rest of the space is filled with gifts, English books, food and snacks, and my radio equipment.

As I stare at my stuffed bags I find it hard to believe that in less than 24 hours I will be on my way Gjakove. I can still clearly remember the first thing Liz Shropshire said to Keith and I as we stood on the doorstep of her rented house in Gjakove.

“I can’t believe you’re actually here,” she said.

In retrospect, I can’t believe we found her in the first place. I had spent days researching music-based therapy programs in the Balkans when by chance I found a link to Liz’s Web site. At the time, the site hadn’t been updated in a year and I was fearful Liz had already left Kosovo (many aid agencies reduced their presence or left Kosovo entirely three years after the conflict ended).

Hoping against all hope, I sent an e-mail to Liz’s “contact” address on her Web site. To my surprise she answered it within a few days but she was somewhat skeptical that Keith and I were serious about visiting her in Gjakove. Hence her comment when she first met us on that chilly, damp day in November, 2002.

“Who could have ever imagined this?” I said in an e-mail to Liz last week. “Hey--I agree--this is a total miracle,” she replied.

A miracle indeed….made possible by Liz, our friends in Gjakove, my 31 fellow trip participants, and the hundreds of Muscatine residents who have so generously donated to the Muscatine Kosovo Project fund.