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The Andrea Tudisco Association and Casa di Andrea is a non-profit organization (ONLUS) financed solely by donors. Its president, Fiorella Tosoni, established it in1997, and it has been furnishing support to families whose children are suffering from serious diseases and various cancers ever since. La Casa di Andrea provides shelter, food, and recreational activities to these children and their families, who have spent months and years battling illness. Most children are awaiting further treatment, such as bone marrow transplantations, prostheses, and surgery. All children at La Casa di Andrea are referred to as fiorellini—little flowers. Volunteers frequently stay with the children throughout the day and night and often accompany them to the hospital. They also cook, garden, and play with them, which frees up their parents, who are able to stay together and offer support to one another.

The Impact of the Pandemic

Navigating such difficult circumstances in regular times is challenging enough, but the pandemic only exacerbated these difficulties. At the pandemic’s height, families weren’t able to leave La Casa di Andrea, and there were lengthy delays for much-needed medical care and access to treatment. When children were admitted to hospital, only mothers could enter for a short period.

Clown therapy behind glass and via Zoom continued at the center and in hospital, as children wore protective gear to minimize their exposure to the coronavirus and other dangerous pathogens as much as possible. There were also struggles at the center as donations slowed to a trickle. All St Stephen’s was able to contribute were drawings to add some bright cheer for the children. The proceeds from our regular activities, like bake sales and other in-person events, were halted due to the pandemic. Nor were we able to schedule visits on weekends or during the summer months as in years past.

La Casa di Andrea has welcomed fifteen young cancer patients from Ukraine. In addition to their illness, these children are reeling from the shock of war. Leaving their fathers and brothers behind and losing their homes have had a tremendous psychological impact on them and their mothers.

I have visited them with increasing frequency, although we are not entirely out of the pandemic. It is difficult to communicate because of the language difference. However, their resilience is evident. Despite incredible odds, the will to carry on is undeniable. Through the smiles of a wonderful, beautiful two-year-old girl who has leukemia and is undergoing chemotherapy in day hospital, I witnessed this. She did not want to let me go as I brushed her hair. We had already formed a bond in a matter of moments, a beautiful sensation that can only really be appreciated once you experience it.

I hope these families will be able to stay for six months so their children can receive the care they so desperately need. Expenses at the center have increased significantly: in addition to providing food and clothing, there are costs for medical personnel—psychologists, clown therapists--and maintenance costs, such as electricity and gas—both of which have skyrocketed overnight.

As always, La Casa di Andrea needs the help and support of all of you. May this center full of so much love continue to power forward.

Annie Jacquet – Supervisor Reach Out – La Casa di Andrea
annie.jacquet@sssrome.it per informazioni

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