Emily Durkee, Karlstad, MN, is preparing to embark this fall on a two-year trip to Croatia. Her role: a house parent to five seventh graders attending high school for the first time.
Durkee will be living in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, a small country in southern Europe, between Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina. She will be working with the Roma people, or “gypsies,” a group ostracized by the rest of the country.
While some Roma people are known for traveling and stealing, a large percentage have settled in villages to raise their families and farm. Those that have settled are still seen as squatters, even though they have lived in the villages for 300 years. They often lack basic plumbing, and with a diet mainly of meat and potatoes, scurvy is a common problem.
Often the children haven’t had the opportunity to get more than just a basic elementary education, up to seventh grade. The teenagers under Durkee’s care haven’t been to high school before. Their village is 2.5 hours outside the capital city, so the students will live with Durkee and another house parent during the week while attending school, and then return to their homes on the weekend.
For more, see this week’s North Star News!