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June 16, 1999






First Kosovo refugees arrive
___By Dan Martin
___Texas Baptist Communications
___CORSICANA--A Kosovo refugee family of four departed American Airlines flight 229 at 3:08 p.m. last Thursday and entered a new life in small-town Texas, half a world away from the war-torn land they were forced to flee.
___Ahmet Krivaqu, his wife, Remzije, their 15-year-old son, Albert, and 22-year-old nephew, Gzim, flew into D/FW International Airport from Newark, N.J., where they had
Kosovars
KOSOVO REFUGEES Ahmet and Remzije Krivaqu rest in the terminal at D/FW International Airport after arriving from New Jersey. Seated beside them is Nannette Cole of Corsicana.
been waiting for a month at Fort Dix, learning basic things about the United States.
___The Kricvaqu family is the first Kosovar refugee family to be sponsored for resettlement by Southern Baptists, according to a spokesman for the North American Mission Board, which coordinates refugee resettlement for SBC-affiliated churches.
___They were met by a smiling, flower-bearing reception committee led by Nannette Cole, missions committee chair at First Baptist Church of Corsicana, which will be their primary sponsor as they resettle in the 25,000-population county seat town.
___Also on hand as a welcoming committee were representatives of the co-sponsoring churches: Helen Albritton of St. John's Episcopal Church and Bill Bradford of Westminster Presbyterian.
___"This is truly an ecumenical effort ... a community effort," said B.F. Risinger, pastor of First Baptist Church of Corsicana, located about 50 miles southeast of Dallas. "Our church is providing the housing and serving as sponsor for the Krivaqu family, but others are joining with us to help provide for them."
___An interpreter and a representative of Refugee Services of North Texas also met the family, as did another Kosovo group of four who are being sponsored by North Dallas Presbyterian Church.
___"The interpreter was with us for a short time," said Cole, adding that the church will have access to the services of another interpreter who lives in Ennis, another small town between Dallas and Corsicana.
___"We will be able to have him as needed, and he can do some interpreting for us over the phone," she said.
___However, 15-year-old Albert "understands a lot, and by the time we got to Corsicana, he was interpreting for his mother," Cole said. "The mother, Remzije, is determined to learn English quickly because she has three older children who are in Germany, and she wants to be able to bring them to the United States."
___Cole said the Krivaqu family "is really a lovely family, and they are so pleased to be here, to have a home of their own again."
___The only hard part of the airline flight and trip to Corsicana was when the Krivaqu family had to separate from the other family, who had been their neighbors in Kosovo, she said. "That was the only time their eyes teared up. They had been told both of the families would be going to Dallas, but didn't know they would be so far away from their friends.
___"We will take them for a visit as soon as possible," she promised.
___The family, she added, was pleased to see the farm land and open country between Dallas and Corsicana.
___Cole's first priority now that the family is settled in at the mission house at Corsicana is to get them some summer clothing.
___"They came in with seven or eight pieces of luggage, but I think it is mostly winter clothing. They had on heavier clothing when they came in, and I tried to tell them it was hot outside. When they took their first step outside--into the 92-degree Texas afternoon heat--they said, 'Oh, hot' and started taking off their jackets," she said.
___Albert, however, had on a sweatshirt from the U.S. Army at Fort Dix and did not, at first, want to take it off. Soon, the heat made him relent.
___Basic facts about the family indicate they are from Pristina, Kosovo's capital city. Ahmet was a truck driver, his wife a shopkeeper and the young men students.
___Richard Robinson, immigration ministries specialist at NAMB, commended Baptists for quick response to disaster relief for the Kosovo refugees but noted that the concern for disaster relief "has not yet carried over to the resettlement of refugees in the United States."
___He also noted that he is cognizant of the peace accords which have been signed to stop the bombing, but he noted that "peace agreements throughout history have had a way of falling apart."
___"It is far, far too early to call off resettlement," he said. "We are proceeding with the resettlement efforts."
___He added that even with the stop to the NATO bombing and the withdrawal of Serb troops, it will take "months and months" to restore Kosovo to livable conditions. "Kosovo is in shambles. There is no water, no electricity, no sanitation. Many of the homes and buildings have been destroyed."
___He also said that refugees who have been brought to the United States will not automatically return to Kosovo, and, in fact, may opt to remain in the United States.
___Individuals, communities and/or churches interested in helping with the Kosovo resettlement effort should contact Robinson at (770) 410-6343.
___

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