This past August I went away. I left the island of Manhattan to escape to a faraway magical island so I could be “incognito.”
I wanted to be far away from my crazy, stressful life of emails, brainstorming, creating, analyzing… I wanted no sirens, no pollution, no honking… I wanted to escape it all, including the English language.
I fell in love with this island. It was pure heaven, blue waters, fish were my friends as well as the warm and loving locals who welcomed me with open arms. I found a home.
There, I met a little girl. We became friends when I saw she wanted to play piano. At 4 years old, she was determined to play Beethoven so I taught her Mozart’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” instead. After that, she became my new “amica.”
She used to speak to me in the cutest Italian and say, “Una cosa… una cosa.” (One thing.) She had constant energy… she in fact brought life and happiness everywhere she went.
But what I found so shocking was how much she was loved. I am so used to seeing nannies and babysitters raising children in Manhattan, and busy adults who are too busy for their own children. I think of little girls like Margarita who lay in a crib all day and no one to hug and kiss her…who doesn’t have the luxury of parents. Then, I met a child who received constant unconditional love and affection from all around her.
She was the prized jewel of the family. I couldn’t help but call her my little “Principessa.”
Our friendship grew stronger once I made her a “coccodrillo” (crocodile). She was so impressed by my “coccodrillo”-making skills, that she asked for a larger one. Then a baby one. She always said, “I have a lot of work!” I thought, what a demanding little princess!
Then finally, she and her uncle requested a pirate ship. I thought, “how the hell am I supposed to make a pirate ship? Who asks for pirate ships?” (Princesses who live on an island… but, of course.)
I googled a picture then I said, I’m going to figure this out. But we’ll have to make a pink pirate ship.
When I finished Giulia was so happy. She smiled and showed everyone her pirate ship. She was so excited, that she demanded another one.
So I obliged.
I stopped and thought to myself, what was I doing on an island making boats? And then it hit me!
I made a boat with the most important component: l o v e.
Giulia loved that boat so much and carried it around with her. I didn’t give her a toy, I didn’t give her a fancy gadget. It was only paper… but I made it JUST for her. She showed it to everyone and proudly displayed her Italian Armada on the piano where we first bonded.
She inspired me just like the little girl whom I had met on the NYC subway who inspired me to visit kids at an orphanage 6 months later.
Giulia’s simple request inspired me to create paper boats to send to members of the Maya’s Hope family…
It is to show that we are sending love across oceans and to remind our friends about the kids we help every day… but the most important ingredient would be: unconditional love and unconditional glitter. (Well, we know that glitter makes everything better.)
When I fell in love with a little girl Margarita, she was 4 years old. She was bedridden. She ate formula through a tube through her nose. She won me over with her smile. That’s when I created a sponsorship program called “Margarita’s Hope” which helps all the bedridden children at Kalinovka.
So with just a smile, these little Princesses have the power to change the world…
Thank you Giulia for asking me to make you that boat. Your smile will launch a thousand ships.
Every time I send a pink love boat, I will always think of you…
Your fellow Principessa,
Ape Maya (Maya the Bee)
Submitted by Maya Rowencak.