Kosovo refugee sends medical supplies to Kosovar hospitals

Andi Canhasi (right) stands with his father, Dr. Behxhet Canhasi, on White Coat Day at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences during Andi’s first year of Osteopathy Medical School. (Photo courtesy of Andi Canhasi)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

INDEPENDENCE — Imagine being 10 years old and having to flee your native land of Kosovo because of the Yugoslav/Albanian conflict which had been going on for years. The fear and uncertainty would be overwhelming. But Andi Canhasi, now 29, never let it undermine his dream and his goals.

He has wanted to be a doctor since he was about 4 years old. He is currently working on a double degree in medicine and business at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and Rockhurst University. And for the past year he has volunteered at the Franciscan Mission Warehouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist in Independence. He is working to fill a container with medical and hospital supplies to ship to Kosovo.

He was born and lived for 10 years in Prystina, the capital of Kosovo, where his father, Dr. Behxhet Canhasi, an Albanian, was head of the nuclear medicine department at the University. Andi recalled sneaking down to the basement of their home where the first cancer screening equipment in Kosovo was kept cool to sleep on hot nights. “I got yelled at a lot for doing that, but that didn’t stop me,” he said with a laugh.
Andi and his siblings knew there was ethnic conflict between the Serbians who ran the Yugoslav government and the Albanians who lived and worked in Kosovo, but they felt safe and secure. Until 1999.

Dr. Canhasi spoke Albanian. When the Serbs outlawed the language in public places, like universities, Dr. Canhasi refused to teach in Serbian, and continued teaching his students in Albanian. He was fired from the university, and subsequently arrested. While he was soon released, he and his wife agreed it would be best for their family if he left Kosovo. Some friends lived in California so Dr. Canhasi decided to stay with them for a while.

During Dr. Canhasi’s 6-month stay in California, the Serbian government conducted an “ethnic cleansing” of Kosovar Albanians, killing half the population and causing a mass exodus. Andi, his mother and siblings both walked and rode toward the border of Montenegro. At one checkpoint, his mother was ordered out of the car. Andi jumped out after her, and soldiers trained guns on him. He finally convinced them that he simply wanted to stay with his mother.

Meanwhile, Dr. Canhasi learned that he could apply for refugee status and, if approved, could be reunited with his family in the U.S. He had moved to the Tampa, Fla., area, where a cousin was living, and had received some assistance from Catholic Charities. He received refugee status as the situation in Kosovo deteriorated. His wife and minor children were able to join him in Florida after just a few months; his older daughter came to the States on her own later.

Andi decided right away that America was a paradise and he was going to succeed in this country. He learned to speak and think in English, and made many friends in grade school and then high school. Still determined to be a doctor, he attended St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Fla., earning a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. He spent the next years backpacking through Europe, working in sales and earning a master’s degree in medical science. He has accumulated 14 years of work experience since he was a teenager, 10 of them in sales.
“I have to understand how something works before I can commit to doing that something,” he said. “It’s almost an obsession, learning how things and people work.”

Last year, Andi decided it was time to begin realizing his dream of being a doctor. He applied to 20 different medical schools; Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience was the last school he applied to. “I had to write essays for each school on why I wanted to attend and why I wanted to be a doctor. By the time I started writing the essay for KCUMB, I was pretty good at essays,” he said grinning. “I then found out about their MBA partnership with Rockhurst University and that made it perfect. I started the dual degree program last year. I finish my finals in July and start my second year in the program the first week of August.”

KCUMB has a service program for new students titled “We Care Days.” Andi was assigned to go to the Franciscan Mission Warehouse in Independence. There he met the director, Paul Wilson, who introduced him to the mission warehouse ministry’s founder, Sister Andrea Kanter.

Franciscan Sister Andrea Kanter served as a missionary for many years in Brazil. She became ill and had to return to the States 24 years ago. She said when she recovered she started receiving numerous requests from Brazilians asking for Pepto Bismol, which helped treat and cure stomach ulcers.

She expected to collect a couple of boxes of Pepto Bismol, maybe more. She recalled being amazed that enough Pepto was donated to fill a 20-foot container. In the next five years, the Sisters received enough medical supplies, furniture and equipment to fill 24 20-foot containers and ship them to people in need around the world.

Today, the mission works with area hospitals and coordinates picking up supplies, furnishings and equipment, and educational supplies and equipment that was headed for the dumpster and storing them at the warehouse. When they have enough supplies, equipment and bedding if needed, they fill 20-foot containers and ship them to Native American reservations, Catholic immigrant agencies, Haiti, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Tanzania, Cameroon, Liberia, Ghana, Uganda, Russia, Ukraine, Siberia and Mali.

Through the mission warehouse donations shipped where needed, the Sisters help facilitate the starting of new clinics and hospitals and schools. The warehouse has two full-time and two part-time staff. Wilson said that volunteers are the mainstay of the warehouse’s mission. “They make it happen,” he said.

Andi is working with Wilson to understand the logistics, shipping costs, permits and overland transportation costs of shipping containers to Kosovo. Kosovo is landlocked, so a ship would unload a container at the closest port and the supplies, equipment and furnishings would have to be transported overland to their destination. Andi has contacts at the nine Kosovar hospitals, introductions facilitated by his father.

He explained, “While expanding my network of the healthcare scene in Kosovo I was able to acquire and compile the medical supply needs for the nine major hospitals that serve about 75 percent of the population. The healthcare needs in Kosovo are extensive and currently this project does not have the resources to meet those needs. I realize that true change takes time, and I am hoping to grow this project throughout my education at KCUMB and Rockhurst University.” His current enrollment in the DO/MBA dual degree program is “helping me tremendously to link the anticipated healthcare needs of a unique population with business analytics that are required to organize” it. He added that he is currently very far away from his goal but he doesn’t let that “deter him from moving forward.”

Andi is busy, a dedicated young man working toward his dream of being a doctor and his goal of serving those in need.

To learn more about the Franciscan Mission Warehouse, visit www.franciscanmissionwarehouse.org.


  • jj

    “During Dr. Canhasi’s 6-month stay in California, the Serbian government conducted an “ethnic cleansing” of Kosovar Albanians, killing half the population and causing a mass exodus.”

    A huge lie – the Kosovo Albanian population numbered about 1.6 million before the war and was similar afterward.
    The total number of deaths and missing of all – Albanians, Serbs, Roma/Gypsies and others – is around 10,000, with many of those being ethnic Albanian fighters (KLA).

    And the mass exodus only occurred AFTER NATO started bombing in late March 1999.
    Furthermore, a German journalist embedded with the KLA rebels (which was even labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department even though the U.S. and west was supporting the KLA), witnessed that the KLA was ordering Albanians to leave in conjunction with the NATO bombing.
    He testified at the ICTY that the KLA even had a list, several weeks before the bombing, of “priority towns” to evacuate when NATO started bombing. He saw this and says those towns were the very first to have people leave.
    It was the KLA-controlled parts of Kosovo where the Albanians left most thoroughly, while the Serbian government controlled parts were where most stayed.
    About 1/2 left and 1/2 stayed.

    • Ethan Matthews

      lol, more serbian lies. you would think that a people that lie so constantly would be better at it. just another thing that serbs are bad at (its a long list). Serbians presence in the balkans has led to nothing but misery and death. A serbian separatist terrorist by the name of gravilo princip killed archduke ferdinand thereby starting WW1 which killed tens of millions of europeans. he is europes most deadly terrorist and yet serbs have built statues of him and think of him as a hero.Then serbia started 4 wars and 2 genocides in the span of less than 10 years in the 90s. Other than that serbs are a great people…hahaha

      • jj

        If half the Kosovo Albanians were killed there would only be 800,000 left in Kosovo. That’s a pure lie – have you even looked at the most recent census?
        The ethnic Albanians have a GREATER percentage in Kosovo than they did before the war.

        No, Serbia did NOT start WWI. Austria and Germany were wanting war for a long time and the Archduke actually stood in the way of a war – he worried about Russia. He was set up. The Austrians gave him no protection as they dangled him out to some bumbling adolescent Bosnians – all were Bosnian born and one was a Bosnian Muslim.
        Austria didn’t even morn the Archduke – his funeral was BOYCOTTED.

        Also, Germany wanted to attack a rising Russia (at that time it was like China today – its economy was booming and on the upswing) before it got up its railroad system.

        It was Austria which declared war a month later and it was Austria which invaded Serbia – but Serbia 3 times pushed it back.
        But that’s when Germany and its puppets – the Bulgarians and Hungary – all invaded Serbia.

        Serbia had the largest percent of civilian losses in WWI.

        Back when the Ottomans were strong, Austria actually used Serbs as a buffer zone and encouraged them to settle in uninhabited and sparsely settled land such as the Krajina (area in parts of Croatia and north-western BiH today).
        But then as the Ottomans got weaker and started receding, Austria thought the Serbs were in the way and it used the Catholics and Muslims against them.
        Austria was especially upset when Serbia and the other Balkan neighbors defeated and pushed the Ottomans out of Serbia, BiH, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, etc.
        It was then that Austria created Albania to deprive Serbia of the sea.
        Austria also had an economic war – the so-called “Pig War” with Serbia – designed to crush Serbia by boycotting pigs/pork which was Serbia’s main export at the time. But Serbia just started exporting to Russia so that didn’t work.

        And no the ’90s war weren’t “genocides” by the Serbs – the post war census shows it was SERBS WHO WERE ETHNICALLY CLEANSED AND GENOCIDED THE MOST.
        It was also Serbs and the JNA which were first attacked.

        The ’90s wars were caused by WESTERN-BACKED separatists/tools.
        The west wanted to break-up Yugoslavia into little ethnically pure or divided statelets – the easier to be absorbed into the EU and NATO.
        And to do this they needed to get the JNA out and to get rid of or reduce the ethnic Serbian population.

        The media hypes about the deaths of non-Serbs SOLDIERS who died all throughout the war and calls that “genocide”. They were the phoniest “genocides” of all because the supposedly “genocided” people ended up a greater percentage than they were before the war.

        • AG

          Well said Ethan, another serbian lie. It hasbwen 19 years since the qar and yes the number of Albanian population did rise! However keep in mind that after the war a lot of Albanians that were wanted to be killed by serbian regime dis return back home to their free country after Serbian forces were kicked out, therefore that added to the number of population. But the number of people killed in Bosnia and Kosova are true numbers, which is hard for Serbians to admit- however the world alreadyknows . 18 years later they still live isolated in their tiny country that they could not expand after all. It is sad for the people living now there because teuly how is it their fault??? (Well besides that they are still destroyed in their heart and mind like JJ) but pthers are only suffering because of 1 idiot leader Millosheviq!!!

          • jj

            The number of people killed in the wars is MUCH lower than the media was hyping during the wars. The real number of deaths was found to be so much lower than the claims.
            And BiH too was found to be lower and most of the death were combatants. The Bosnian Muslim military was the largest in that war and they had the largest number of deaths.
            Plus there was a war between the Croats and Muslims within the BiH war which lasted 16 months. It was some of the most intense fighting and left Mostar the most destroyed city in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
            The war between the only stopped with heavy western pressure. The west wanted them to unite and attack Serbs.

            The west was always supporting the non-Serb separatists to attack and cleanse Serbs, while the media stayed silent on the non-Serbs crimes – including be-headings and torture camps all over Croatia, BiH and in Kosmet.

            Albanians were also involved in Croatia’s war and Croatia, not to long ago, has asked Albanians to help identify some dead fighters whom are not Croats. The Croats believe they are ethnic Albanians because thousands of Albanians went to Croatia to ethnically cleanse and kill off the Croatian Serbs.

            Also an ALBANIAN WOMAN, tortured and killed an 11-year-old Serbian boy from Zvornik in Bosnia.
            She was fighting with the Muslim troops around Srebrenica.
            She was finally arrested and there will be a trial.

          • kane

            The only thing we want is for a giant wall with mines to separate our nations.

            someone from kosovo.

          • jj

            You forget that there are still Serbs in Kosovo, plus all those monasteries are Serbian – not to mention the old fortresses, as well as other properties, including the major waterworks in the north.
            Why don’t Albanians go back to Albania if you want to be separated?

          • kane

            Why don’t you go back to russia ? 🙂

            We want a wall with serbia. Serbs in kosovo are free to give up fascist nationalism.

            I am very down to earth guy.

          • jj

            Serbs aren’t from Russia. DNA shows Serbs are native with the most predominant genetic marker originating in the Balkans 10,000 years ago. That is 1/3 of their DNA, plus another large percent is estimated to have arrived in the Balkans 9,000 years ago.
            Additionally this original Balkan DNA is strongest in the people of Herzegovina who are mostly Serbs (in the East) and Croats (in the West). But many Serbs in Dalmatia, Southern Croatia and Herzegovina were Catholicized under pressure and influence of Venetian and then Austrian rule.
            DNA shows Serbs – and most of the South Slavs – are not genetically close with the other more northern Slavs – Poles, Czechs, etc.
            Look up DNA of Serbs on Wikipedia – it is quite detailed.

            Slavic is more a linguistic and cultural connection than genetic.

            Meanwhile, Albanians’ language shows ties to the Caucasus. Albanians language has many similarities with the Chechens’ language. Similar sounds, grammar, syntax – even many words.
            You should go back to the Caucasus.
            You were originally brought from the Caucasus (and ancient maps show an Albania there in 900 A.D.) to Sicily by the Arabs. The Arabs had conquered it and were settling Albanians there.
            Then later a Byzantine Emperor brought the Albanians in Sicily to the Balkans to fight Serbs to a war between Serbs and the Byzantine Empire.
            Albanians lost but were allowed to settle there.

          • kane

            Sure. You seem delusional to an impressive length.

            You are slavic leftovers who were probably thrown out of your ancestral homelands in russia.
            You are russian, your language is a bastardized version of russian.

            As for us, quite a few words of racism and dismissal you have there.

            We are native to the region, at least older than you wretches that came in the 6th century ad.
            Our DNA in the balkans shows mostly a mix.

            Our language doesnt show any link to yours and our customs are different.

            As for your wikipedia and our arguments, its very sad.
            If you want ethnic cleansing and war, we can deliver.

            But dont howl like scared dogs when someone resists and kills you in kind.

            You reap what you sow, you bastard child of the devil.

          • jj

            Proto-Slavic language existed in the Balkans and the original Slavic language spread outward.
            The DNA/genetics shows that Serbs, Macedonians, Bosnians, etc. are original Balkans people.
            The people of Herzegovina have the most original Balkan blood. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina have NO Albanian language influence.
            Albanians came from the Caucasus.
            By the way the Serbs were called Illyrians by the Austrians LONG before the Germans and Austrians decided to switch to the Albs for political reasons.
            18th century Austrian documents call Serbs Illyrian peoples.
            Plus the Croats started an Illyrian movement and Austrians oppressed it.

            Albanians: go back to the Caucasus with your cousins, the Chechens.

    • kane

      The major reason why people left and continue to leave Kosovo is because of serbian state sponsored terrorism, harassment, blocking of exports and killings during the war.

      Someone from Kosovo

August 17, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph