Driton Berisha: “what I learn tackles my bad habits”
Driton Berisha is a champion of Roma inclusion from Kosovo. A trailblazer in the Kosovo Roma-Ashkali-Egyptian Early Years Networks (KRAEEYN) and a participant of Global Leaders program building leadership capacities among early childhood advocates for Romani children. Driton is also the father of Nihada (7), Shaban (5), and Nihad (3).
It has been nine years since Driton started to work on the education of Romani children, including the very youngest. His focus on the science of early childhood development started with his engagement with the Kosova Education Center. “I believe that this a deep science and one of the most important ones for humankind. We need to accept that there is no end to how much we can learn about knowledge processing of children in early years.” Driton says he uses new knowledge his is acquiring to tackle his own bad habits by trying to improve his parenting skills and turning bad habits into good ones, and being proud of the good ones.
Driton lives with his wife Mirsada, their children, his father and sister. “We are not a small family”, he says. “But a very happy family.”
Mirsada is currently studying and hopes to find a job soon; on the meantime she is at home with the family. Of his wife Driton says “I believe her job is a lot harder than mine, even when I am at home.” “I cannot imagine a more loving mother for my children than my wife” And through the lens of an early childhood professional, Driton exclaims “by doing that she does with the children, Mirsada is one of the best experts!”
In Romani communities, especially the more traditional ones, parenting is often the mother’s role; something that Driton is trying to address in both his personal and professional life. At the Kosova Education Center they work with all the stakeholders that influence early childhood development such as organizations and institutions, government officials, preschools, teachers, fathers, mothers, grandparents, and other important stakeholders that come across. Within their everyday work, they try to bring excitement to routine by providing expertise, news and experiences from around the world.
“My childhood was not a lot different from the childhood of my children. My parents offered everything they could to me and my sisters. We always had what we needed, and sometimes that was challenging for my parents,” Driton remembers. His gratitude to his parents is enormous, but he says speaking of them as amazing is just being objective.
Sharing information about parents and parenting skills is crucial. “At the Kosova Education Center, we tell the parents that they are doing much more than just parenting. We explain that by talking to their children, letting them make mistakes, by playing with them, telling them stories, encouraging them and supporting positive behaviors, and letting them express their feelings, they are fulfilling not only their dreams as parents but their children’s rights to become healthy adults. This is what I say to my family as well,” Driton concludes.