"In my head I was already dead. 

So was everyone from my family.

Everyone was taking bread and clothes to the mountains.

I was taking books.

Because I knew without book I would be forced to look at this terror all round us."

Blerina Ahmetaj. Owner, Amphora Cafe, Manchester.

Blerina Ahmetaj
00:00 / 32:27
selatin bogujevci.jpg

"We did not have enough food.

It was not normal life.

It was not secure.

We could not work.

Since 1990 the situation changed.

It started to get much worse.

I had to leave my job and they shut a lot of schools.

They killed my family in the garden."

Selatin Bogujveci. MAK Leader, Manchester.

Selatin Bogujevci
00:00 / 1:06:23

"I was so young. I was 16 years old before the war. I was meeting my husband Besim. Very bad things happen and they change everything. It was the war in Kosovo and my husband was shot in the face. One of my brothers was injured one of them was dead. Five was kidnapped and found dead after four years."

Valbona Peci Kadriu. Mother, home-maker, Manchester.

Valbona Kadriu
00:00 / 14:00

"This happened in the 20th Century: the age of the internet, the age of computers and you still have people with the mentality to empty a country, which doesn't make sense because you'd think we'd moved on from that kind of mentality. We had 24 hours to leave. There's still close to 2,000 people missing."

Bledar Bujupi. Film Editor, Manchester.

Bleda Bujupi
00:00 / 30:11

"People were just disappearing.

We didn't have any clothes.

We didn't have anything with us.

We just left the house with a bag: all our memories, toys, books, little baby clothes, all gone."

Bleta Kabashi. Bronze Foundry Technician, Oswestry.

Bleta Kabashi
00:00 / 1:14:35

"We didn't know anything like that existed whatsoever, in the sense of mass being held in school. Because we were never used to anything like that back home, I had no clue.

They were told it was a Catholic School and my dad was like, 'So what difference does it make, is it a good school?' And they said, 'Yeah, it's a good school.'"

Adonis Alaj. Insurance broker, Manchester.

Adonis Alaj
00:00 / 1:25:53

"I was deployed when NATO had to move into Kosovo to deal with the genocidal cleansing... At last, a plane was going to leave Pristina carrying four people. One young lad, shot in the abdomen, going to Salford. The patient with the missing face accepted by the ENT and Ophthalmic specialists in the Manchester Hospitals, and these two young girls. It made sense for them all to be going up to one city."

Col. David Vassello. Consultant Medical Surgeon. Royal Army Medical Corps. MaK Patron.

David Vassallo
00:00 / 33:32

"I’m at college studying nursing. Maybe because I was in hospital a lot when I was younger, I know what it’s like to be that kid, or that person, in hospital. I want to give that back: what the nurses did for me, how they helped. 
I want to give that back to the community.

Jonida Bujupi. Health and Social Care Student, Manchester.

Jonida Bujupi
00:00 / 11:53

"My father saved some money and he said to them that he would give all of his money just to be released. They accepted that. 
My father had hidden his money in our shoes and he cut them, took his money and gave it to them.
And they started to have a celebration and started to drink again. And we had to serve them our food.

Ilir Nezeri. Dentist, Manchester.

Ilir Nezeri
00:00 / 1:38:05

"That night neighbours knocked onto everybody’s doors to say, ‘They’re coming here! They’re throwing bodies in the lake!’ 
That was the only night that my mum and dad had let us take our shoes off. I just remember it was raining and walking in the mud further away from the lake. 
In fact they did throw bodies. They just threw bodies into the lake and drove off.

Lumnije Mustafa. Specialist Nurse, Organ Donation, Manchester.

Lumnije Mustafa
00:00 / 32:33
Fatos Bogujevci.jpg

"We saw Serbian police army forces going into our neighbours houses breaking the windows and just taking all the people out. We presumed that they wanted us to join the rest of the people in the roads and just leave, flee the town. Someone ordered the other guys to take us back into our neighbour’s garden and that’s where they just started shooting. And left us for dead."

Fatos Bogujevci. Artist & Graphic Designer, Manchester.

Fatos Bogujevci
00:00 / 1:11:32

"When the war came we had to leave.All together, in the night, into the mountains. We were chased every step. We didn't have any clothes; we slept in the open air. Whenever we found food we would share it with everyone. That was pretty much it, for three months, until the Liberation."

Fazli Blakçori. MMU Peace and Development Graduate, Manchester.

Fazli Blakcori
00:00 / 20:46

"That night we went to the mountain again. I was shot. I was alone: no one else can help you. After 24 hours I meet a few people. They gave me help to go to a house which has not been burnt down. I meet some of Valbona’s family over there. Everyone has been in shock because I was injured in my face."

Besim Kadriu. Former Engineering Student, Manchester.

Besim Kadriu
00:00 / 16:27

"We survived the war. 
We have never given up. 
We have moved forward. 
We have aimed to live our lives to the fullest but never forgetting the past.

Jehona Bogujevci. Artist, Graphic Designer, Manchester.

Jehona Bogujevci
00:00 / 18:21
Qendrim Mustafa.jpg

"I just remember the parents and the adults trying to keep it quiet all the time: always chatting away, but obviously we could still hear the worry.
I guess that put fear into us. You know there’s a real danger.

Qendrim Mustafa. Insurance Underwriter, Manchester.

Qendrim Mustafa
00:00 / 36:36

"There's always struggles. But what makes it easy, is to see so many people be part of your life, changing it and making it better; and always giving you hope and pushing you to move forward and helping you; supporting you to achieve what you want in life."

Saranda Bogujevci. Director Culture, Youth, Media and Sport, Municipality of Pristina, Kosovo.

Saranda Bogujevci
00:00 / 16:36

"Saranda and Fatos were the first Albanians to give their testimonies against Serbian forces. They opened the door. 
Many family members got their courage, by those kids, to give their testimonies in Serbian court. 
Their testimony has built collective memory about the past based on facts. We, as human rights activists, do appreciate very much their decision and braveness to give testimonies.

Bekin Blakaj. Executive Director, Humanitarian Law Centre, Kosovo.

Bekim Blakaj
00:00 / 16:13

"The welcome was magnificent, unexplainable. Not just our first steps off the plane at Manchester airport, but also then the processing of all of the refugees. 
And yes, it's true, the English removed the rags of oppression and truly brought smiles for the first time to our kids faces - our kids, who had seen nothing but violence, burnings and killings.

Bedri Hyseni, Former Lawyer, Teacher, Kosovo.

Bedri Hyseni
00:00 / 22:01

"A summer is a summer... a winter is a winter."

Before the war.

Before the war
00:00 / 07:26

"Everybody wanted to get on that train. But police were getting on that train to find young people to take them out. 
Mum was hiding her son under her dress.

During the war.

During the war.
00:00 / 1:24:03

"As soon as we landed here, my eyes kind of opened. I was not the same anymore. I didn’t need to close myself up anymore. I knew straight away that I was safe. No one was trying to kill us here. We were safe."


00:00 / 21:42

"After 5 years, it was amazing to go back and see the country I had left burning."


00:00 / 35:57