15 children, overcomers of cancer and social handicaps, return home from the voyage of their lives!!!
They are children from challenged and decidedly different backgrounds, some of them cancer survivors, some battling the handicap of growing up without the love and nurturing of a natural family – yet, they had one thing in common: they were on the voyage of their lives!
For the third consecutive time, and again, under the auspices of the Italian Embassy and non-profit organization Chance 4 Children (yours truly…), the children embarked on an adventure therapy journey of a very different kind. The lion’s share of the support needed for this ambitious project was provided by Unicredit Bank Czech Republic. (Please find a complete list of sponsors at the bottom)
The Nave Italia is the largest sailing brigantine schooner in the world and she has been navigating the Mediterranean Sea for years under the patronage of the Italian Navy – for the benefit of children needing therapy, rehabilitation or just simply encouragement and coaching.
The itinerary was demanding: after departing from Prague with complimentary tickets generously supplied by Czech Airlines, the children and their overseers landed in Rome where they visited Vatican City and the major sites of this ancient capital city. Two days later they traveled to Olbia, where they were hosted at the Villa Chiara before embarking a day later on the Nave Italia to cruise the Mediterranean for 6 days.
While onboard the ship they learned nautical skills and challenging activities like climbing nets, but also were involved in preparing meals, cleanup and more practical tasks. One of the highlights of the trip was the onboard preparation and rehearsal of an animation show for their upcoming visit to Giovanni Paolo II hospital in Olbia.
“When the children heard that we’ll be preparing a program for hospitalized children in Olbia, they really put their hearts into learning Italian songs and making hand-colored gifts for the sick children there”, smiles Rafal Wojas, C4C’s co-founder, who accompanied the children on their voyage with his team of professional overseers and coaches.
One of the girls, Nelly, commented that it was the first time that she was on the giving, rather the receiving side, bring joy and laughter to children undergoing difficult therapies. As a former oncological patient, she only remembered and knew too well what it felt like to be a patient.
His Excellency, Italian Ambassador Francesco Saverio Nisio pointed out that “Nave Italia is commendable in many ways, creating a bridge between countries and placing the children at the center of all dynamics and helping them experience new emotional and cognitive stimuli!”
This truly multi-level adventure enriched the participating children and helped the group experience a new culture, absorb amazing historical facts, learn exciting nautical skills, find new friends and experience the joy of reaching out to others – all aboard a fascinating sailing vessel.
“It’s the third time around now that Chance 4 Children had the honor of organizing this important initiative with our partners from the Italian Embassy in Prague”, says Marketa Franke, current chairwoman of the Chance 4 Children Endowment Fund. “It is a truly unique and meaningful undertaking, helping children from two entirely different and challenging set of backgrounds experience community while on an intriguing and action-packed journey, helping them to bond and exchange their life experiences.” She added that it was indeed an honor that Chance 4 Children has been the only non-Italian organization to be chosen to partake in the Nave Italia experience – a privilege usually only reserved for Italian children at risk and in need.
Captain Luciano Desiderio exuberantly exclaimed that “even though our Czech guests didn’t speak Italian, they managed wonderfully to integrate and interact with the crew. They were truly the best group we’ve ever had on board and they set a beautiful example – by actively giving back and helping hospitalized Italian children have a better day!”
In closing, we would like to give credit to whom credit is due and list all the sponsors, donors and folks who make this life-changing experience possible for the attending children. Thank you all so much for helping make this dream come true:
Unicredit Bank Czech Republic: Paolo Ianone
The Embassy of Italy: H.E. Francesco Nissio
Czech Airlines: Tomáš Brejcha
Kaufland – Czech Republic
Letiště Praha, a. s. / Prague Airport: Jiří Kraus
Fondazione Tender To Nave Italia Onlus: Gabriele Iannelli
Marina Militare Italia
Grimaldi Lines: Guido Grimaldi
Italian Railway: Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane S.p.A. – Alba Corrado
Accomodations in Olbie: Villa Chiara – Gianluca Laconi
Atlas Adverising Group s.r.o.: Jan Zelenka
T-SHIRTS 4U s.r.o.: Michal Brouček
Author: Manfred Franke