Activated - - NEWS - By Anna Per­lini Anna Per­lini is a co­founder of Per un Mondo Migliore, a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­tive in the Balkans since 1995.

I first met Ma­rina al­most 20 years ago at a work­shop or­ga­nized by a Ja­panese NGO for Bos­nian refugee women. She was warm and friendly and was def­i­nitely adding her own very orig­i­nal artist’s touch to the event, even though she was just help­ing these women make some sim­ple greet­ing cards. A few years later, she ac­com­pa­nied two bus­loads of the same refugee women to Italy as part of an ex­change pro­gram. That’s when I got to know her hu­mor­ous side! She was al­ways liven­ing up the at­mos­phere with jokes, songs, and her full con­ta­gious laugh.

Then I heard she was hav­ing some mar­riage prob­lems, and as her life en­tered a tu­mul­tuous stage, she started vis­it­ing more of­ten for com­fort, prayer, and spir­i­tual so­lace. Tears would of­ten stream down her face and her once-sunny per­son­al­ity gave way to gloom and de­spair. On top of this, she be­gan a bat­tle with breast can­cer.

We even­tu­ally no­ticed that she would dis­ap­pear each year for a while around Car­ni­val (a mo­men­tous event in our town). Once, my hus­band met her at a pa­rade, dressed as a clown and with a big smile on her face. The next time she vis­ited, he told her: “Wait a minute. You were a great clown, and not only were you mak­ing oth­ers happy, but you were the hap­pi­est I’ve seen you in a while! You have a gift from God! Why not come with us to do clown ther­apy? I guar­an­tee this would change your life!”

She ac­cepted the chal­lenge and her life rad­i­cally changed! She started par­tic­i­pat­ing in our clown ther­apy events and train­ing young vol­un­teers; and she be­gan her own events busi­ness for birth­day par­ties and other par­ties. She’s ap­peared on lo­cal TV and news­pa­pers, and peo­ple ev­ery­where in town know and love her. Some­times she gets sick, or even just tired, and un­der­stand­ably so, but never for long. In her own words: “Just a few days at home are enough for me to start get­ting sad and in­tro­verted. I need to put on my clown cos­tume, get out of the house, get that sun­shine out, and go and make some­one happy. That’s the best cure for my own prob­lems.”

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