Kujtesa Bejtullahu hugged Finnegan Hamill when she arrived in San Francisco Wednesday.
The two teens had exchanged email during the war in Kosovo, until phone lines were knocked out in March. In her electronic notes, she provided vivid descriptions of life in Kosovo during the war, and Finnegan arranged to have them broadcast on National Public Radio.
CBS This Morning first brought the two teens together on the air, where they were able to talk before meeting face to face.
At first, reports CBS News Correspondent Hattie Kauffman, he knew her only over the Internet. Her emails described the unfathomable - ethnic cleansing. She was Albanian, inside Kosovo and a target of the Serbs.
|Kujtesa Bejtullahu |
"I wish nobody in the world would have to go through what we are," she said.
Working with a group of teens at a youth radio station in Berkeley, Finnegan put a voice to her messages and through public radio, America heard her story. To protect her identity they called her Adona.
"I don't want to end up raped, with no parts of body like the massacred ones," she said.
Then the email stopped. The NATO bombing began. Refugees swarmed to the borders. Weeks wore on. With each new image, Finnegan wondered what happened to her.
"Throughout the time, I kept hoping that she would show up in a refugee camp somewhere," he said. "As long as she was still inside Kosovo, she was in danger."
But she survived. And Wednesday on CBS This Morning, the two got their first look at each other via satellite.
|Finnegan Hamill |
"Welcome to America," said Finnegan.
"Thanks," said Kujtesa. "Looks interesting."
She got a brief tour of New York and then headed to San Francisco to meet Finnegan and her other American email friends.
She and three other teens from Kosovo will spend a year here, thanks to Finnegan and a local church group who tirelessly raised money to bring them here.
Finnegan said he had butterflies in his stomach as he met her face-to-face with flowers and a hug.
"I'm pretty excited," Kujtesa said. "I was longing for this oment. I was waiting for this moment a long time."
It was a moment she had no idea would ever come about, even when Finnegan was broadcasting her story.
"Finnegan told me during a short conversation about the stories being broadcast," she said. "But to be honest, at that time, I didn't pay much attention....When you fear for your life, you have other things on your mind."
Is Kujtesa finished fearing for her life?
"Yes. I feel safe. I feel secure now."