Albanian Americans rally to Kosovo relief effort
April 4, 1999
NEW YORK (CNN) -- As ethnic Albanian refugees continue to flood out of Kosovo, Albanians in the United States are gathering money and supplies to send to their friends and families who are now without homes.
At Our Lady of Shkodra Roman Catholic Church in Hartsdale, New York, raising money for the refugees has become a priority. The congregation is almost entirely Albanian, and one-fourth of its parishioners hail from Kosovo.
"A lot of them, they don't know where their relatives are located at this point and are extremely nervous," said Father Peter Popaj, a priest at the church.
Members of the Democratic League of Kosovo -- an organization representing some 200,000 people of Albanian ancestry in the Northeast -- have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the relief effort.
Marjan Cubi, president of the league, says interest in helping the Kosovars has been high -- and some people have told him that "if necessary, they would like to go to fight."
Besa Bauta is fighting in her own way. The 25-year-old has put graduate school on hold to help with the relief efforts.
"We have to mobilize and collect these medicines and send them over there because these kids are dying," she said. "And that's the most frustrating part, because they're not getting it in the time they need."
Since the Kosovo crisis began, activist Shqipe Malushi has been working the phones around the clock. She heads a group of Albanian women who are organizing a fund-raiser in New York on Monday night. Celebrities Vanessa Redgrave and Rosie Perez have been invited to read e-mail written by Kosovars.
"This is it -- either we will make it or we will die as a nation," Malushi said.
U.N.: Kosovo refugee flood could reach 1 million
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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