By Martha Rial, Post-Gazette Staff Photographer
When the first images of the refugees fleeing Kosovo moved across the wire, I tried to imagine the uncertainty, the cold, the terror. I wanted to understand the complex history that could create the deep hatred that drove them from their homes. I hoped to learn more about the personal stories behind the sea of disoriented faces flooding Macedonia and Albania.
During a two-week trip to northern Macedonia in May 1999, I met mothers desperate for information about their sons and daughters and elderly men so overwhelmed they could barely talk.
I met families who wanted to share their few scraps of food with me. I will never forget Sherife Maloku, the matriarch of the Maloku clan, tucking me in after she and her family opened up their tent to me for a night. In her rapid Albanian she told me not to be afraid and to call for her if I needed anything.
In another place and another time, it could have been a normal motherly gesture. It was just one of the startling ways that I saw refugees carve out a semblance of normalcy in their extraordinary circumstances. I tried to capture that spirit in the pictures that follow.
An Enduring Spirit: Part one
An Enduring Spirit: Part two
An Enduring Spirit: Part three