Rreze Duli's father was born in Southern Serbia, her Albanian mother comes from Macedonia. She sees herself as a Kosovar. Rreze represents a new generation of women in Pristina, where she lives alone with her daughter Hana. Being a single mother in Kosovo is not easy:
"It is only possible because I work a lot, from half past seven in the morning until six o'clock in the evening. Then I can take care of my daughter."
Rreze still recalls the 'golden years' before the arrival of Slobodan Milosevic. She was a student of mechanical engineering in the 1980s. Back then, she could travel freely in Yugoslavia and most of Europe. In 1989 Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic imposed Belgrade’s rule in Kosovo. An estimated 130,000 Kosovo Albanians lost their jobs.
During the 1990s Rreze and most of her family worked for international organisations. She worked for Mercy Corps.
"The situation was critical; many people were laid off from work. At that time, I began to work for an American aid organization. I wanted to help Kosovo; we distributed relief funds, especially flour, stoves and hygiene packs.”
After 1999 Rreze worked for a number of international agencies. In March 2003 she joined the Lessons Learned and Analysis Unit of the EU Pillar of UNMIK, run by ESI. With ESI, Rreze undertook research on economic and social developments in villages and towns across Kosovo, and on the economic situation of Kosovo Serbs. She contributed to a number of ESI reports, including The Lausanne Principle and Cutting the Lifeline.
What Rreze saw doing field research in rural Kosovo shocked her.
"When I worked with ESI in 2003, I would visit the villages every day. We carried out intensive research and realized that the villagers don't have any perspective to live off agriculture. The small plots of land cannot provide for the many inhabitants."
Field-research in rural Kosovo
2007 Rreze returned to the villages she had earlier studied.
"In fact, nothing changed for the better. There was hope – but I see that only the school that was started to be built three years ago is finished now. There's no other change. The situation is worse than before."
Today Rreze again works for an NGO, one funded by USAID. While she welcomes Kosovo’s independence she is concerned about the possible departure of international organisations.