Travelling is very restricted for our community. Most of our children and adults do not have official travel documents and even to leave our very small town is a very difficult enterprise.
When some of our sponsors offered tickets for some of Baan Unrak’s children and staff to visit Italy, we did not believe such a trip could be possible. There were restrictions all around—from the Embassy formalities to the incomplete identity papers of the children. It seemed like an impossible task, but it was a task we were eager to take on just to show ourselves and others that if we had a strong determination, we could over-come obstacles.
Finally, after we secured special letters and never gave up, passports, tickets, insurance and visas were ready and away we went to our great adventure. Everything was so new to our children. To prepare luggage for European winter and the last moment search for shoes was something beyond conception. The airport grandeur and administration process were new. To fly in a jet airplane was new, and the wonderful feeling of freedom was new too.
Finally, we had broken through the boundary of our little township and we were ready to explore the world.
There are almost no words to describe the feeling of wonder that our children experienced as they entered their new world. And, our welcome was so warm! Our Italian friends were worried about the whether and if we had the proper clothing. They met us with boxes full of shoes, jackets and jumpers. Thank goodness for that because we had brought all the wrong clothes and shoes. And for the first three days the children were so cold that they were wearing sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats, even inside the house and under the blankets.
Bit by bit they started to love the cooler Italian weather and to dress more moderately. And, besides the weather, they started to love Italian food and enjoyed a lot of spaghetti and pizza too!
They also met Didi’s extended family and they could not believe their eyes. Didi has so many relatives. They also met Didi’s mother and said she looked like a princess among all the guests, radiating strength and beauty. And in fact, she was beautiful, especially her heart, which was filled with joy and pride to see her long-gone daughter, Didi, back in her household. Didi’s mother could feel a sense of accomplishment as Didi’s mission to preserve and nourishing life was enhancing and completing her life ambition.
Every house we visited seemed like a work of art. Each house so clean. The children were especially impressed with the recycling process, with everyone so disciplined in separating the rubbish. It was also impressive to see that even in the modern world, Italian people still love ancient objects and care so carefully for them. From a small house in a tiny mountain town to a large cathedral, buildings seem loved and cared for. Also,
the autumn colours of nature were so intense and amazing for the children who had never seen this season before. The landscape from Verona to Florence was especially evocative and the children said that they felt that they were living in to the pages of a picture book.
We met the good-hearted people from the Romena Community and they were so moved by the story of Baan Unrak. They cried tears of joy and embraced us time and time again.
At San Marino, seeing the castles and perfectly preserved ancient township really gave the impression of living in a fairy-tale, with princesses, chamberlains and valets—all so picturesque and hard to imagine as real. We were given the incredible honor of being received by the Regent of the small republic, and the ceremony gave us the feeling of being transported to a land of magic. The people were so incredibly good to us. We were featured in local media, TV and newspapers as well.
Our children were immersed in the refined culture and into artistic beauty. The romantic beauty of Verona, the exquisite beauty of Florence, the serenity of Treviso, the unique charm of the canals of Venice, the enchantment of snow on the peaks of the nearby mountains of Trento and Salorno. Everything was so beautiful!
A very important moment was the gift of meditation with our Neo Humanist friends of Salorno. Our meditation with them awakened in the children a deep longing for the infinite, as was profoundly different from meditation at home. Every moment was perfect and we were overflowing with the experience of love.
Everyone gave so much to us – our Italian volunteers, Didi’s family and our indispensable and every loyal sponsors, the people of Romena, San Marino, and of course our Ananda Marga friends. Even people who were new to us and who met us by chance, for the first time. Everyone did a lot for us and opened themselves fully. They opened the doors to their homes and the doors to their hearts.
The last touch of beauty came again from Florence, with the incredible experience of a live concert of classic music in the oratory of a Florence Church. This stimulated an inexpressible feeling in our children and they said it was the first time in their lives they had experienced such a sensation. It was indeed reflected in their ecstatic faces. The concert was the last touch of magic, and assured that our Italian experience would be alive forever in the hearts of our children.
We are filled with gratitude and we can never say thank you enough to all the people who helped us.