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Family Matters

national geographic story

Family Matters

In many villages in Serbia, there is a growing problem – the sound of crying babies hasn’t been heard for a long time. These villages have been abandoned gradually, made extinct and left without women. In search of a better life, women moved to towns, so the only inhabitants are lonely men. Being tired of searching for Serbian women that would be willing to come to their villages and revive them, these men decided to try something different. They started searching for hope in the Albanian town of Shkoder, located in the north of the country,on the shore of lake that bears the same name. This lake makes the natural border with Montenegro.
Despite the long-lasting conflict in Kosovo, the Serbs and Albanians are facings no barriers to love. Serbian bachelors, mostly in their 40s, that have never been able to get married, now have a chance to make their desperate wishes come true. They use the services of the Albanian “matchmaker”, who charges more than two thousand euros for a successful meeting. The men are often very poor and unable to pay the matchmaker without selling part of their property, such as cows and tractors. For them, this is a necessary and small sacrifice to pay for the reward they expect to get.

The exodus of young people from some parts of Serbia has unexpectedly started in 1990s, when faced with wars and the postwar period, the great number of them emigrated to economically stable countries. According to the latest data, about 20% of Serbian population is more than 65 years old. In addition, in the last ten years there have been no newborns in 370 villages. Therefore, women from Albania frequently present the only salvation from the extinction of the family tree and fulfilling desires of the hearth. When they meet, their communication is mostly limited to body language, since their mother tongues are so different. The huge differences between them do not end up there: they are also of different religion, as well as they are divider by a big generation gap – men are usually more than twenty years older than women. However, many of these couples find their common language fast and create stable families.