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Kosovo Adds Meaning as Canadians Celebrate Thanksgiving

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 12 October 1999 00:00

As Canadians sit down to Thanksgiving dinners in homes across Canada, many may not be aware just how lucky they are.

Rallying seniors across Canada, The Honourable Flora MacDonald, wants to house the more than 100,000 senior Kosovo refugees forced to flee from their homes when war struck. She hopes each of our 3.7 million Canadians over age 65 will donate a loonie to help build temporary winter shelters in Kosovo.

Ms. MacDonald, 73, outspoken former Member of Parliament and Federal Minister and current volunteer co-chair of the Canadian National Co-ordinating Committee for the International Year of Older Persons (IYOP), has seen firsthand how desperate housing conditions are in war-torn Kosovo.

"Because we were doing so many national IYOP projects here, I said we shouldn't forget that it is the international year," said Ms. MacDonald who sits on 14 international, nonprofit boards. "There are many older people who are not as fortunate as we are. There are tremendous hardships for older persons in Kosovo.

"We decided it would be a significant gesture if all of our 3.7 million seniors gave a dollar."

Kosovo donations are being channeled through CARE Canada which has the staff and infrastructure to distribute the funds. This special national IYOP program is called Canada's Seniors Care.

"Sixty-five per cent of the housing has been destroyed," said Ms. MacDonald, referring to her visit to Kosovo earlier this year. "I went to one village and talked with the elderly wife of the leader of that community. When her village was attacked, they fled to Albania. She walked for 3 weeks.

"I asked her, ‘What was it like when you came over the hill and saw your village?' She said, ‘I went into shock. I was in shock for a week. Then I started to cry.' Every single house in her village was destroyed."

Winter is coming very quickly in Kosovo. The first priority of Canada's Seniors Care is to help import lumber to build temporary shelters. Plastic sheeting and small stoves will help keep older people and young children warm until new homes can be built.

"Next year, it will be the permanent rebuilding. This is a rush against the onslaught of winter," says Ms. MacDonald.

"It's hard to send a dollar through the mail, so we're asking seniors' groups, clubs and churches to gather up member loonies and send the twenty or thirty dollars to Canada's Seniors Care, c/o CARE Canada, Box 9000, Ottawa ON K1G 4X6. To direct the funds to Kosovo's seniors, write "Canada's Seniors Care" on the check (or money order)."

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  • CHIC: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Housing
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