Dear all,

The end of last year has brought many lasting changes to the Roma-Ashkali/Egyptian (former) refugee community in Konik.

The photos below represent what once used to be the refugee camp Konik 1. While most of you who do not spend your every day in Konik probably (and rightfully) have had hard time figuring that out, it is only to say that Konik as we used to know it does not exist anymore. The process that has been started little over two years ago is about to be finished soon.

It all started with the first 5 buildings being built for the inhabitants of Konik 2 who moved into the apartments for the New Year of 2016. Immediately after, the building program funded by the EU has continued with the goal of providing new, better housing for all of the refugee population in Konik. As the result of that, at the end of this year 10 more buildings were completed and 5 more are about to be built. For the moment, vast majority of Konik 2 and Konik 1 inhabitants have moved into new apartments, with perhaps little over a dozen families still being on a “waiting list” due to some legal/paperwork issues or possibility of them returning to Kosovo. On the other hand, the status of non-Roma refugees from Bosnia and Croatia still remains unclear.

While moving into new apartments has brought a lot of joy, it has also raised a lot of concerns. The truth is that regardless of how miserable life in the refugee camps was, it has also provided a shelter from many things, such as responsibility of paying bills (truth to be told, people had to pay for some of their electric bills in the last couple of years while they were in the camp), taking care of stairways and other common spaces, etc.

On the top of that, another cold shower people experienced was when they actually realized that “their” apartments DO NOT actually belong to them, that the real owner of the apartments is the City of Podgorica and they are only tenants! I can still remember the excitement Konik 2 people had when they were first moving into the apartments and how it had gradually turned into worry and anxiety of the next electric, water, garbage removal and rent bills. Konik 1 population is still only to experience the same.

The painful and yet sobering process has taken a few casualties. Among the former Konik 2 people, there are several families that are seriously considering returning to Kosovo sometimes this year. The new lifestyle with all the strings/bills attached is too heavy to cary. The time will tell what will happen with those from Konik 1.

Please pray for everyone involved in this situation: the people, authorities, governmental and international agencies…. Pray that all the future development takes place according to His will and that no one acts out of fear, anxiety, prejudice or selfishness. Pray that His Kingdom grows in Konik and that He makes all things right for all. Pray that we (re)discover our role and calling in all of it.

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