Page 978 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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For Whom the Bell Tolls Serbian Women in Djakovica
By the Monks of Dečani Monastery
For two years, since the end of war in Kosovo and Me- tohija, six elderly Serb women in Djakovica have fought with prayer and hope in God against the hatred which
surrounds them. as she has done for the past forty years, Poleksija Kastratović, known as Poljka, age sixty-five, con- tinues to ring the bells of the old Orthodox church in Dja- kovica, calling the faithful to prayer each day. By carrying out this godly task, she firmly believes that she is not only calling the faithful to prayer but also daringly announcing the fact that the last six Orthodox Christian women in Dja- kovica still live and worship our Lord Christ here.
For forty years Poljka has lived in the small, old house in the churchyard in Djakovica. Before she chose to live a life similar to that of the ancient prophetess anna, who hur- ried to greet the newly born Christ-child, she worked as a teacher. after several years of work, the Communist gov- ernment fired her due to her open practice of the Ortho- dox Faith, as was the case at that time with many public servants who re fused to hide their faith. Poljka understood this to be Divine Providence, which was calling her to serve God and His Church. Since then she has devoted herself to the church—cleaning it, lighting the icon lamps, and ring- ing the bells to call the faithful to prayer.
Had all this occurred in any other town in Serbia and Yugoslavia, the story would not be that unusual. How ever, Sister Poljka and five other elderly Serb women live in Dja- kovica, a town in Metohija where Serbs have not lived for the past two years. The elderly women live in complete iso- lation in the churchyard, unable to move about freely or purchase any thing in the nearby store. after the war in Kosovo and Metohija, during which many innocent civil- ians were killed in clashes between Yugoslav forces and al- banian extremists, al most all Serbs from Djakovica were forced to flee from their homes. at the approach of KFOR troops, the Yugoslav army withdrew from the Province according to their agreement, but at the same time alba- nian extremists began a systematic genocide against the remaining Serbs. During those days, hundreds of Serbs were killed and abducted, hundreds of homes were burned and destroyed, many churches were desecrated and demolished, and numerous ancient cemetery markers were destroyed
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to con found the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty —i Corinthians 1:27
The last Serbian inhabitans in Djakovica
who found shelter in the local church of Dormition
or broken through out Kosovo and Metohija. all those who had long awaited the arrival of international forces were bitterly disappointed, viewing the bloodshed which occurred be fore the eyes of NaTO soldiers.
Following the arrival of italian peacekeeping forces, a small number of elderly Serbs, expecting the italians to pro- tect them, stayed in their homes in Djakovica. Unfortu- nately, albanian extremists (members of the KLa) con- ducted daily at tacks, looting and finally burning down Serb homes. The small parish church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos remained the only refuge and shel- ter, while Poljka turned out to be a true hero, saving many from hunger and death. The churchyard was over flowing with exhausted people who had barely man aged to make it to the small church, hiding in gardens and basements along the way. Poleksija, certain that the Lord would not abandon them, called on the people to pray and to light candles to St. Nicholas, their divine protector. One day members of the KLa forced their way into the churchyard and began to search the people; however, by the grace of God none of them were injured, be cause the italian troops were near. Those Serbs who remained in their homes fared far worse: some of them disappeared, while others were found mas- sacred in their homes in the most brutal fashion.

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