Kosovo to Edmond
Life in Edmond is good for the Mullaliu family. But they won’t soon forget where they came from: a country where gunfire became common and snipers were around every corner.
Enis Mullaliu is a 24-year-old Edmond resident whose family found asylum in Oklahoma from their war-torn home of Rahovec, located in Kosovo, Yugoslavia.
Mullaliu lived in Rahovec with his mother and father, his sister, now 22, and his brother, now 17.
Before war began, the Mullalius were a happy, wealthy family. They had a small food market and were financially independent.
“People lived there without tall fences,” Mullaliu said. “People were a lot closer to each other. Everyone was welcome to his neighbor’s house.”
Then war began. Mullaliu said it was a fight about gaining independence. Kosovo is one of the states from former Yugoslavia, along with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. Each wanted independence, he said, and former dictator Slobodan Milosevic tried to control them all. Then he invaded one after another.
The people from Rahovec got the news that Serbian troops were close. The city was in the way of the troops. Because there was not any electricity or water after the military took over, and the media was kept away from the focus of the events, information was uncertain. For a couple of days, people had to stay inside their houses. “We were hearing shotguns and snipers everywhere,” Mullaliu said. “The Kosovo rebels were protecting the city.”
Mullaliu’s family spent the last night at their house gathered in one room. They thought it might be the last time they would see each other.
“I thought all of my family members could be massacred that night,” he said. Mullaliu’s uncle knocked on the door and told them they had to leave the house and the city. Mullaliu was then 16 years old. The family and other citizens started walking to a neighbor village where they could be safe. On the road they were stopped by tanks with soldiers who had been shooting at anybody, young or old.
“We were literally running to save our lives,” Mullaliu said. While carrying his younger brother, Mullaliu said he prayed that the bullets would hit him –instead of his brother. “But the tank bullets were so big that if one of us was hit the other one would be hit too.” The siblings stayed at this village, but they did not know anything about their parents. Later, the Mullalius were reunited.
Mullaliu’s cousin was an exchange student in Moore. He discovered he could help his relatives by filling out applications for asylum, and later the Mullalius made it to Oklahoma.
Mullaliu’s parents found a job, got an apartment and settled in Edmond. Things are more difficult for them because they don’t speak English and know few people, he said. Mullaliu is a UCO student. He studies criminal justice and hopes to one day work for the federal government or CIA. “Maybe I’ll go back and help rebuild my country,” he said. “Maybe I’ll go after the criminals and be a good investigator.”
“Edmond is a great place to live. It is beautiful and is growing fast. It is peaceful. I hope to have a family one day here,” he added.
Mullaliu became an American citizen on May 31 and said he plans to stay in Oklahoma for a while. “I want to show my people how nicely we are treated here and how you should treat people in general,” he said.