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MALTATODAY 13 March 2022

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19 Unity SUNDAY 13 MARCH 2022 PHOTO JAMES BIANCHI beach, or going out on Sun- days with my aunt and uncle. This brought some respite to what I would be experiencing on a day-to-day basis. We also had the love of my grandfather, which I treasure to this day. Other than that, as a little girl it was a cycle I thought I would never manage to break away from. Was going to university a dream that developed in time? No, no. I always wanted to go to university but I knew it was impossible for me to achieve that target. We just couldn't afford it and I had to go out to work. I remember once being on a school visit to the Univer- sity of Malta, hoping that one day I would come here too. Somehow I didn't believe that dream would materialise. I always refer to you as our own 'Florence Nightingale', taking on children and rescue animals... [Laughs] Yes, I was always taking on children who had problems – either at home or refugees, or people dealing with personal issues! I wanted to be there for them. Some stayed on for as long as 13 years; others I have adopt- ed, others know they will find me whenever they need. It also created quite a financial bur- den on me. I would have to cook and pay bills for 10 people at a time. Somehow, I managed but it became quite a chore. But there was no way I could abandon these children. Most still keep in touch with me. I was actually the first separated person to adopt in Malta, and it took the court magistrate some convincing, but I man- aged at the end. I believe that children need a strong adult's presence and I tried to fill in this role when the children who crossed my path did not have that pres- ence. What are your core beliefs? I believe in goodness. And I love doing what is right and helping others because it gives me satisfaction. To a certain degree there is an element of selfishness, but it is why most people do good things. I am al- so motivated by other peoples' pain. Let's face it: it's enjoyable to help. I am also motivated by other peoples' pain. What is so special about social work? It is the opportunity to con- nect with people. It is the satis- faction of seeing people grow. It is a profession that gives hope to so many people who are at the margins of society. What kept you going in life? Notwithstanding the difficul- ties I had to face during most of my life, such as the issues I had to tackle as I was growing up, or my broken marriage, which did not work out, and the serious and difficult prob- lems my son Jon got himself into, the struggles my daughter Abigail endured growing up, or the endless number of children needing my help, I still believe that what made me get on with life is eliminating the emotion of bitterness and anger and instead transforming that into positive energy with tangible, practical actions. How did your children feel about the fact that you shared your life with so many other children? They had no issue as far as I know. They considered them brothers and sisters. Obvi- ously, when they were going through difficult times and I was all alone trying to sort out these problems, it was very dif- ficult to manage – but I never gave up on them. How many children did you support? This is a difficult one. I cannot remember exactly but there must have been at least 15 chil- dren I was directly involved in from all walks of life, from so many different countries, backgrounds and religions. What do you think is the big- gest satisfaction in your life? I believe that seeing my chil- dren settle down, establishing themselves in the professions they are so passionate about, is what makes me happy. My achievement in life is that the people I met and who crossed my path every day made me a better person, and I hope I have contributed positively to their life. …and animals? Oh, they are of the most im- portance in my life. Why? Because they depend entirely on me. And I always go for rescue animals. I love them so much. They make me happy. Final words...? I didn't have it easy. But looking back I believe that life is what you make of it!

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