Clallam: Kosovo youths seek help for U.S. educations

SEQUIM — Two young men who came from Kosovo to gain an education in the U. S. may have to leave before their dream is realized.

Leart Zherka, 18, and Jetmir Bakija, 17, came to the United States on student visas with a dream that helped them graduate from Port Angeles High School and finish their first semester at Peninsula College.

Now, after losing the backing of a sponsor, the young men are hoping community support will help them finish their degrees.

Their families live in Kosovo and cannot assist them. The college does not offer scholarships or financial aid for international students, and their part-time jobs will not cover their expenses.

Mary Welch, an 87-year-old Sequim resident, met Zherka and Bakija when they came to work in her gardens. They now live with Welch in exchange for doing chores around the house.

“We have really become a family,” Welch said. “Leart calls me his American grandmother and I am determined to try to help them stay here so they can finish their education.”

Welch said someone donated $6,500 anonymously after hearing about the young men’s situation.

Welch has set up a savings account at Washington Mutual bank in Sequim and has begun recruiting friends to help the young men.

The rest of this story appears in today’s Peninsula Daily News, on sale throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties. Click on “Subscribe” to get the PDN delivered to your home or office.

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