For many there wasn't even time to say good-bye. CNN had reported that Serbs were leaving Kosovo in droves and that the refugees' old towns and villages suddenly stood open. It took only a few minutes for most Kosovar refugees to reach the same conclusion: they needed to get back to their homes as soon as possible to protect them from looting or vandalism, whether at the hands of the departing Serbs or the returning Kosovars.

So they piled into cars, buses, trucks and horse-pulled wagons and left. When volunteers arrived at the camps the next day with bread, coffee and stew, they found mostly empty tents. A couple of hours later, when other volunteers arrived to continue the previous day's English lessons or to play with kids who had been traumatized by violence, many of the Kosovars were already high in the mountains and jamming the mountain passes at Librazhd and Kolsh.

When the Kosovars arrived home, a lucky few simply unlocked their doors to find everything exactly as they had left it. But many others found that their apartments had been stripped of valuables and that their family photos or son's soccer gear or daughter's dolls had been dumped behind a neighbor's shed.