Visitors to Kosovo sometimes wonder why local houses are so big and spacious. The answer becomes obvious after entering one.
Qefser Qahil and his family of five live in a large house with five rooms. They share the house with Qefser's brother, his wife and their seven children. Qefser's brother works as a teacher in the local primary school in Lubishte.
Qefser works the five hectares of land he owns. He can harvest enough flour to bake bread for 10 months in a year. He also works as an agricultural labourer on other families’ land.
"If the state would sell us petrol at a lower price, it would be easier. Or if there were a possibility to take out a loan. But we cannot take out credit, because nobody in my family has a permanent salary. My brother has only a contract for one year, as a teacher, and a small salary."
This was not the life he had hoped for. His biggest wish had always been to get an education and to find paid work.
"In my youth I wished to get an education, to finish school, and to find work afterwards. But my financial background wouldn't allow it, so I studied physics for only one year. I had to stop and to start working in agriculture…My father died in 1981 and I had to stop my studies to tend to my old mother and the family.
These days, Qefser helps pay for his brother's two sons’ education.
No one in Qefsers' family is working abroad. Without remittances, life is very hard.
"Remittances from abroad are very important. Students with parents abroad are getting an education. People who don't have someone supporting them will most likely not get an education. We have many examples here [of] students having to stop their education due to financial problems."
Qefser also dreams of running his own household, separate from that of his brother. It is not by choice but by necessity that the two families still live together. Recently – to prepare for dividing the household – Qefser has begun building a second house. Once the new home is ready, he and his brother will split the five hectares of land. From that moment on, the two families will operate as separate economic units.
Qefser expects little, as far as his own future is concerned, but hopes for a better life for his children:
"If Kosovo is to become an independent state, our youth will have new perspectives – but for my generation it is already too late. For the future we expect better chances for our youth. Maybe the West, the European Union and America will invest. I believe the countries that helped us during the war will help us now. If our economy grows, young people will find work and the financial situation of families in the villages and in the towns will improve."