Gallery Seventy Two continues its cause to raise funds and collect donations for the families in Fushe, Kosovo. If you are able to help in any capacity, please come in to the Gallery and talk to Bobby Drapala, the owner or you may contact Michele at 609-321-0588. We will be happy to get your donations to Kosovo. Thank you!!
Volunteer Jan Dykhuizen
The owner of Gallery Seventy Two, Bobby Drapala, began a campaign in 2015 to raise funds to help the children of Fushe, a small village outside of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. While deployed by the United States Military to Kosovo, Bobby traveled the country extensively, taking photographs on his journey. Some of his photos are featured in the slide show above.
During his time in Kosovo, Bobby met a missionary named Mark Yorcum who suggested they visit the village of Fushe. What a shock to see the people were living with a garbage dump in the middle of the village. The garbage had piled up for years after the city and government failed to pick up the trash as they agreed to do with the tax dollars they collected from the village. Because the garbage was not being picked up, the village stopped paying the taxes. The dump continues to grow and has become a health hazard and dangerous. Wild dogs feed off of the garbage, roam the streets and attack families of the village.
The village of Fushe is made up of Albanians, Egyptians and Romas, who are considered gypsies by outsiders. The children are taught at an early age to beg and to sift through garbage for aluminum cans and other items that can be sold to make an income. Families are not educated and often are without work. They will do anything they can to provide for their families and even keep their children out of school in order to help them bring money into the home.
Despite these hardships, the children of Fushe are sweet and friendly. Mabe they are unaware of the dangers; they are at risk of being abused or raped while begging on the streets. Having the children attend school is the best way to help this village with its' problems of poverty and health issues. It is difficult to convince parents to battle the hurdles to register their children in school, but Elizabeth Fowe started The Partnership in Fushe to help combat the problems. The Partnership teaches the parents to make soap and sell it in order to make an income on their own rather than keeping their children out of school to beg for the family. Clothing and other basic necessities are scarce for the gypsy families of Fushe. Children often wear whatever clothing has been donated to them and is often not fit for the weather conditions nor fit to be compliant for acceptance into school.
After seeing the pictures of the children of Fushe in Gallery Seventy Two on a visit to NJ, Jan Dykhuizen of Myrtle Beach South Carolina saw a dire need for appropriate clothing for these children. Jan was a resident of NJ for most of her life and worked for the state of NJ in the social services division for 36 years before retiring to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Jan has been making dresses for girls around the world in countries such as Nicaragua and South Africa along with a friend since 2016. She has completed over 500 dresses to date.
Jan set her mind on making dresses for the girls in Fushe to give them proper clothing in order to attend school. Jan has made 110 dresses for these girls! She purchased fabric with her own money and also collected fabric from anyone willing to donate. She has spent countless hours at her sewing machine on this project. In addition to the dresses, Jan has included warm leggings for the children. Jan recently received a donation from a relative of warm fabric and she plans to use it to continue making warm clothing for the children of Fushe. Thank you , Jan!!!