After gaining independence in 2008, Kosovo became the land of the youths.
Two million people and nearly a million are under the age of 25. Many of the young people live in bigger cities, they share packed rooms with friends; they look for work, work for little pay and hang out. Their future is an existential issue for Kosovo.
The numbers are quite astounding: 70% of the population is under the age of 35 and something like the 50% is under 25.Youth unemployment is at 70% and the education standards are quite low.
Kosovars are somewhat alienated from the rest of Europe. The only population without a visa-free travel to Western Europe. In the rural part of the country, there are no job opportunities. Many young men and women have fled Kosovo for Western Europe, to remain refugees in their own continent. Many are being sent back to Kosovo, away from jobs and better life opportunities. As a result, the culture of Kosovo is changing
Still, there is a vibrant youth culture, and a number of interesting individuals are working to effect change in their society. A large number of Kosovar youths speak English and are studying to gain a University degree; furthermore they are politically active and strongly critical against the actual government.
They feel the government corruption and the lack of caring for the youths
Violence and crime have resorted in a part of the young men who need to express their frustration against the government.
The wages are definitely under the European average, as little as 300 Euro per month in the big cities.
Someone I met, once quoted a philosopher saying that young people “resemble an eternal patient, constantly cared for by doctors who don’t allow any real process of healing in order to let him walk with his own legs.”
Youths and Kosovo are at a crossroads, on one side they want to create their own identity, but at the same they are trapped in a country and is struggling to figure out a future of its own. The next few years will be fundamental to determine a lot about Kosovo’s future and the fate of its youths.
I started to work on this project in 2012, when I decided to understand what is happening in the youngest country of Europe. I photographed young faces hoping that their expressions may reveal something about their future. My intention is to go back and give voice to the Kosovar youths