John Jay High Schdool student Elizabeta Berisha is spearheading a humanitarian donation project called “Beta’s Healthcare Supplies Drive.” Her mission is to improve the lives of children in Pristina, Kosovo, by collecting much needed medical supplies such as band-aids, antibiotic ointments, and first aid kits for the city’s under-resourced public hospitals.
Pristina, the capital of Kosovo and its largest city, is home to around 200,000 people. However, while Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, the country still struggles with the scars of its war-torn past and is listed by the World Bank as the third poorest country in Europe.
For Elizabeta, the plight of Kosovo’s children is deeply personal. Her father immigrated to the United States from Pristina during the Kosovo war.
In fact, much of Berisha’s family and friends still reside in Pristina.
In the summer of 2014, Elizabeta was visiting her family in Pristina when one of her cousins took ill and was taken to the local public hospital for care. When her cousin arrived at the hospital, the staff could not take her temperature as they did not have a thermometer on hand. Her family had to go to a local pharmacy to purchase a new thermometer so hospital staff could take this most basic, but vital reading. Even at a young age, this experience stuck with Elizabeta, who since age 4 has wanted to become a physician.
“I just couldn’t believe that a hospital didn’t have a thermometer, something so small, but so important,” Elizabeta said.
Now preparing for life beyond high school, Elizabeta plans on pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, more specifically, a cardiologist. Her passion for medicine led her to volunteer at Northern Westchester Hospital this summer. Her work at the hospital would not only grow her passion for medicine; it would also serve as a reminder of her cousin’s experience in a Pristina hospital. “We have so much at our fingertips and take so much for granted when it comes to something as basic as medical supplies, especially when in a hospital,” Elizabeta said.
This feeling, coupled with Elizabeta’s deep compassion for others, drove her to “do something to change the situation in Pristina” and thus, Beta’s boxes was born. Elizabeta has developed connections with public hospitals and medical professionals in Pristina, who will accept the supplies, as well as pharmacies in Westchester who have agreed to display donation boxes in their stores. The donation boxes serve as a collection point for unopened boxes of band-aids, antibiotic ointments, and first aid kits needed in Pristina’s public hospitals. Elizabeta plans on making the first round of donations to the public hospitals in Pristina at the end of September.
If you would like to donate any of these much-needed items, you may drop them off at donation boxes located within these local businesses:
Cross River Pharmacy, 20 North Salem Road, Cross River
Paul’s Pharmacy, 222 Oakridge Common Drive, South Salem
Pound Ridge Pharmacy, 55 Westchester Ave, Pound Ridge
Jefferson Valley Pharmacy, 3693 Hill Blvd, Yorktown Heights
Save Mor Drugs Health Mart Pharmacy, 175 South Riverside Ave, Croton on Hudson