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According to one volunteer, the community-run repurposed industrial facility called Termokiss is “a diamond in the mud.”

Before local and international youth volunteers renovated the building to serve their community, Termokiss was an abandoned Yugoslav-era industrial facility on the outskirts of Prishtina. The building had fallen into disrepair: it was missing a roof, the windows were broken, several syringes littered the grounds and the structure was being used as an informal public toilet.

“It was like a jungle inside,” one of Termokiss’ organizers Nikki Murseli said.

It took 10 days for the volunteers to clean out the space. They collected recycled building materials from local landfills and informal dumps while clearing out all the wild grass that sprouted around the property.

They even built a roof.

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They named the place Termokiss. “Termo” from the facilitiy’s old namesake—Termokos— and “kiss” from the Arabic kismet, loosely translating to fate, according to Murseli, “I hope so — but I might need divine help.”

When the project was completed and the international volunteers left, a question faced the local organizers: what would be the future of Termokiss?

“It would be stupid to close it,” Murseli said. She added that friends began to call friends as the youth glimpsed the possibility of Termokiss as a social hub. They were soon meeting weekly.

“It’s been a year and we’re still meeting Wednesday at 6,” she said.

The meetings are organized democratically — everyone votes and majority rules. However, the attendees typically reach a consensus and a middle ground on the group decisions, even if it takes all night.

In the past year, the organizers introduced several clubs in an effort to offer more activities and more opportunities for community-building. The program offers a platform for youth to express themselves creatively through interests like writing while also sharing information on techniques like Permaculture gardening and farming. If not, there’s always the option to play cards and connect with other volunteers.14344261_1831049120458645_2584983991451962293_n

Likewise, there is frequent, usually educational, screenings of documentaries and other films. These other film screenings included a back-to-back marathon of the Harry Potter films that started at 10 in the morning and ended at 6 in the morning the next day.

According to volunteer Eldena Dakaj, it’s a place where “ You don’t feel left over.”

Nonetheless, this idealism faced challenges earlier in the process of Termokiss’ creation.

Despite being supported by Belgian and Swiss NGOs and faculty at the University of Prishtina, the group’s resources were still too limited to openly bid for the space and leases are rarely firms. Moreover, private firms were showing an interest in the factory on the outskirts of Prishtina that was valued in millions of euros.

After long, sometimes even philosophical discussion, municipal authorities granted the group legal occupation for three years.

“We’re not doing it for profit,” Dakaj said. “ We’re doing it for society.”19055361_1966877766875779_3541518880234070691_o

In the future, the group hopes to open other independent spaces in the style of Termokiss, offering the same opportunities to other neighbourhoods and communities. In the factory, they hope to add a climbing wall while bringing more community members into the fold.

The end goal, according to Nikki Murseli, is simple.

“Bring the world here.”

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