Kosovars in U.S. struggle over whether to stay
July 7, 1999
From Correspondent Maria Hinojosa
WATERBURY, Connecticut (CNN) -- Many Kosovar Albanians had little choice but to leave their homes when they were forced out at gunpoint. But the several thousand Kosovar refugees now in the United States face the difficult decision of whether to stay in America or return to their homeland.
Seven members of the Marku family face that choice as they long for news about loved ones who are still missing.
One woman left her daughter behind when masked men told the family they had five minutes to leave their home and homeland, according to the Markus.
"I can't describe how bad it was at that moment," said Johanna Marku, 19, who was a medical student in Kosovo and now is training to become a nurse.
Woman must leave husband behind
Another woman in the Marku family, Leaura Qasimi, had to leave the father of her newborn baby behind in the Balkans. She tries to think about the future, but sadness lingers.
"I appreciate what the United States of America is doing for us," Qasimi said. "I am free."
But while the Marku family lives with American conveniences, they are still not free of the psychological wounds of war.
"It's not like home," said 31-year-old Osmond Marku, who works the overnight shift in a factory making $10.50 an hour. "I'm not saying that living here is bad. It is good here, but it's not like being at home."
Home, in Kosovo, is where Johanna's husband was left behind.
"It's very different, because here there is democracy. I am free here," said Johanna. "But I mean there -- over there is my lovely, people
Now that the war is over, choices must be made. Do they stay so that the youngest son, who is often sad and withdrawn, can start school in September?
Do they stay and rebuild a life with the cousin who brought them here in the first place and who has asked them not to go back?
"Nowhere will they find a country like the United States," said the cousin, Argon. "So they are lucky, very lucky."
Should they stay in a place where even those who want to help, such as refugee counselors, can't seem to give them what the refugees really want?
"I can't take away the pain of loneliness and missing family and not knowing what is going on back there," said Myra Oliver of the International Institute of Connecticut
For now, they will stay, but like many other Kosovar refugees, their hopes and dreams are for another country far away.
"I want the best for my country, the best for my daughter and for other people to be free," said Johanna.
First 'sanctioned' refugees return to Kosovo
Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
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