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Thinking about our friends far away

These days, connection is more important than ever. With school closed, we are all here at home together. We are concerned about our friends and families near and far away and so, in our way we are sending our love to you through colorful messages, mantras and positive thoughts.

“Everything is for the best, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST!”, is our motto.

Shortly before the virus closed borders around the world, Zia Caterina arrived to Baan Unrak.

Having her with us is like having our own Mary Poppins! “Zia” means “Auntie” in Italian, she is our Italian Zia, and from every corner of the Home of Joy you can hear the children shout “Zia, Zia!” as she marches along with her tinkling bells.

She arrived with her bold polka dot dresses, her big flowery hat, bells on her wrists and around her neck, her wand with balloons and a seemingly bottomless bag filled with cookies, superhero cards, and accessories for arts and craft projects. Just like the Banks family in Mary Poppins, we are all in awe of her.

According to Zia:

“There is a treasure in everybody you meet. Everybody is a miracle.” 

Zia Caterina has been witnessing miracles for over 20 years now.

In Italy, Zia Caterina is a very special taxi driver (for Love, but we’ll tell you the whole story next time!). Her Taxi is a magical playground, something out of a fairy tale. It looks a bit like this:

The SuperHeroes

She drives patients – her “SuperHeroes” – and their families from all over Italy, who come to Florence for cancer treatment. She also takes them on exciting tours of the city, she visit them at their homes, and invite them to hers too.

Zia’s “SuperHeroes” love her so much, as she provides color, love, laughter and fun not just to their lives but to the lives of their parents also.

The “SuperHeroes” have their very own caricatures that we are all coming to know and love, and we are connecting with them through our art classes every day.

When we finish painting, Zia posts our children’s works on social media, so that her “SuperHeroes” can see them and connect with us here at Baan Unrak. Friendships forged through art, from Italy to Thailand.

Even the smaller ones come to join us at the library, a space of wonder.

Due to the lockdown, Zia is unable to go home to Italy to be with her “SuperHeroes” now, so we are letting them know that we are supporting them, thinking about them and sending them our best wishes for their recovery. They miss Zia so much, we know, so we are very grateful to have her here.

The Super Spreader of… Love!

Zia’s mission is to become the “Super spreader of… Love!” and she does this so well. We all feel her love. She gives us her time generously, she showers us with kind, motivating words, colorful toys and tokens. Zia believes that Baan Unrak is the right place for her to be right now, where she is truly needed. If she was in Italy, she would not be allowed to go to the hospital to be with her SuperHeroes, so we are her SuperHeroes now, and we feel her love.

In the banner that the children drew and painted with Zia, “Covid The Virus” looks like a scary monster. But, as Zia taught us, Covid is not bad, he is just very very ugly, and has a very long stinger in its tail. Yet, if we put masks and gloves, Virus cannot sting us, and flowers will come out of it!

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