June 5, 1999
From Reporter Deborah Feyerick
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Remembering the kindness her family received decades ago when they left the Balkans for the United States, Eva Shakiri has returned the favor by opening her home to refugees from Kosovo -- 30 of them.
Shakiri was 9 years old when her family left Macedonia for Brooklyn, New York. "My father had a rough time in the beginning," she said, adding that he later met up with some good friends who helped him and the family out, "which was great."
Her husband Ibish recently learned his Kosovar Albanian relatives were in trouble, prompting the couple to take in six families, comprised mostly of children.
"When it comes to my family, she will do anything," Ibish Shakiri said of his wife.
The relatives arrived in May with only the clothes on their backs and plenty of painful memories.
"The children don't want their mothers and fathers to go away. The first three nights they didn't go in the next room by themselves," Eva Shakiri said.
The Shakiris canceled a Caribbean vacation, using the money instead to buy clothing, blankets and food for the refugees, who began looking for long-term housing after 10 days
"We buy four, five gallons of milk a day, seven or eight gallons of juice, a lot of water and food," Ibish Shakiri said.
The generosity amazes case workers and neighbors.
"Eva has taken over so many things, I have never seen any family do (so much) for their relatives," said Renate Brand of the New York Association for New Americans.
"I've never seen her upset. I've never seen her complain. She just keeps buying food," said neighbor Carol Perri DeSimone.
Coworkers and others have helped with donations as word has spread through the community about the refugees.
But the work of the Shakiris is far from finished. They expect eight more relatives to arrive within the week.
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