If This Table Could Talk


This week at CLARD, I got to go behind the scenes at a TV station! In addition to the campaign against domestic violence and sexual harassment, one of CLARD’s ongoing projects is a weekly TV show about the rights of citizens and the resources available to them. Each week, Anton hosts a different guest on the show and together they discuss the ins and outs of a given legal issue. While I have been here, the topics have ranged from intellectual property to traffic accidents to potential future access to the European Court of Human Rights. Television is a useful medium for getting the word out to as many Kosovars as possible because it casts a wide net and meets people where they are, giving it the potential to reach and inform people who may not even know they can or should seek out legal assistance from organizations like CLARD. Just a few weeks ago, a man visited us at the office for help filing a complaint at court because he had seen Anton on TV.

The TV show, Time for Legal Advice, is usually filmed and broadcasted live every Wednesday morning, but this week Anton was pre-recording next week’s episode with our colleague Edona as his guest. The subject of this special episode was the campaign against domestic violence, because having visited Gjakova, Deçan, Klinë, and Istog over the past two weeks, CLARD has visited all 38 municipalities and finished its year-long project! There is still a project report to be given and new project proposals to be drafted, but I can tell the team is pleased with the campaign’s results and relieved to have a break in activities.

Kosovo also welcomed the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), Lisa A. Johnson, to Pristina this week, which is momentous for CLARD because INL is one of its main sponsors. Deputy Secretary Johnson met with Anton and several other of INL’s civil society trustees while she was here, and Anton reported that she seemed pleased by the Kosovan government’s increasing openness to working with the civil society. INL has been a good partner for CLARD because INL’s model involves empowering local organizations to achieve their common goals, all the while being open to the locals’ concerns, ideas, and suggestions. Other US and international entities will often use their own manpower to carry out projects in foreign countries, but using the target country’s local organizations helps build the capacities and interrelationships of the maturing institutions.

This week was full of special visitors because I also got to meet two of CLARD’s former staff members, Mikel and Delphine, who were traveling through on holiday with their sons. We sat drinking coffee while they swapped stories and shared life updates. I enjoyed hearing more about the history of CLARD: the different shapes it has taken, the people it has involved, the projects it has undertaken, and the choices it made to become the organization as I know it now. The stories they told were both lighthearted and poignant, funny and nostalgic. I liked seeing the camaraderie they had with one another despite nearly ten years apart; they spoke with mutual respect, laughed with familiarity, and reminisced with abandon.

After we finished our coffee, we went upstairs to the office so Mikel and Delphine could see the new place. Over the years, CLARD has changed and moved around, but one thing that has lasted through each development is an old wooden table tucked in one corner. Upon seeing the table my colleagues and their friends mused about all the laughter, tears, meetings, coffees, business deals, defeats, and victories that the table has seen over the years, saying that if this table could talk it would have quite the story to tell. That table is my desk, and I am so humbled and honored to be a small part of the CLARD history etched in its woodwork.

That is all for now, friends, but I will be back next week with some preliminary thoughts on a tricky aspect of transitional justice in Kosovo.

Shihemi më vonë!