My grandmother, from Texas to the world and back

She passed away in October. She was 92.

by Tina Dupuy

In the late ’90s, there was an expanding humanitarian crisis in Kosovo which had displaced 90 percent of the country’s ethnic Albanian population. More than a million people were in need in the Balkans so, naturally, my grandmother, Seewee Dupuy, volunteered Wharton, Texas, to help.

Wharton, a town of 9,000, welcomed three extended families — more than 30 souls — all Muslims — fleeing ethnic cleansing. Seewee organized the effort; the St. Martin Episcopal Church took collections; the neighborhood grocery store donated food; she met with local business owners to get the newcomers jobs.

Her committee (which was most likely just her) found two apartments close together, she said, so the refugees “wouldn’t feel so alone in a strange town.” My grandmother had anticipated their needs, noting that she wasn’t expecting to see any Kosovar men because “so many have been killed.”

Seewee was then in her 70s, donning rubber gloves, scrubbing down the apartments before the families arrived while scheduling other Wharton residents to provide transportation, tutoring and help navigating the DMV. It was a matter of life and death, and Seewee was all business. She didn’t like theatrics, and I would never describe her as sentimental. It wasn’t a political stunt. She didn’t have an agenda. To her, it was the right thing to do, and it simply needed to be done.

I imagine it was the last 20 years of Seewee leading her ever-present Texas tour groups that inspired the plan. Before the war, she had taken her Texans to Belgrade and near Dubrovnik where much of the bombing occurred. “It’s a very poor country,” Seewee told The Victoria Advocate. “We visited Muslim villages while we were there. I didn’t notice any hatred.”

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Tina Dupuy
Tina Dupuy is a nationally syndicated political columnist, investigative journalist, award-winning writer, stand-up comic and wedge issue fan. You can follow her on Twitter @TinaDupuy or her website TinaDupuy.com

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