Home for child cancer patients: “we're a family where everyone speaks a different language”

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This is Peter Pan Onlus, an association offering a free stay for entire families while one of their children undergoes cancer treatment in Rome.    

One of the founders was the former president of Peter Pan, Giovanna. Her daughter, Maura, suggested the idea before she died of cancer in '93. Maura had desired the whole family to be present with her and to have a sense of normalcy during treatment.   

Co-founder, Peter Pan Onlus
From then on, it switched on a light that our strength could be optimized to create something so that this would not happen to others. FLASH 2:11-2:27 'The family is part of the cure, it is part of the disease, it is part of the exhaustion of the disease, but it is also part of the cure. So when the family is able to be united in favor of the sick child, they all can sustain the pain better than only one or two people.” 

They try to cultivate community life by cooking and eating together with the 30 families hosted from different cities in Italy or from many other countries around the world.    

Treatment is difficult for everyone involved, yet this 14-year-old boy from Romania still manages to keep a smile on his face. He even learned Italian during his year and a half in Italy, so he could translate what the doctors were saying to his mom. Through his hobbies, he is able to think positively about the future.   

Guest, Peter Pan Onlus
“Yes, I really like painting. These are mine too, and I have a lot in my room – 40! With what I've done, I want to do an exhibition. 'FLASH 1:52-2:17 I do a bit of everything. I like cooking too, especially crepes. The activities in the house are very beautiful and they help you forget how you feel. I know you have to do something to be happy and whatever you do, it makes you feel better.'

There are regular activities at the three houses that have been built, various fundraisers and the option for each patient to continue their education in a school nearby.   

Co-founder, Peter Pan Onlus
'Peter Pan is very complex. But it's also dignified. We are trying to really give and maintain dignity, because if life has to be lived, it must be lived with dignity. FLASH 'Suffering is terrible. Watching your child suffer is the worst thing that can happen. But, as happened with us, if you do not share this pain it remains with you and nothing comes of it.' 

Guest, Peter Pan Onlus
'Here we listen to each other. We are like a family, a family where everyone speaks a different language. But we are a family that even when speaking other languages, we all understand each other.' 

Started nearly 25 years ago, Peter Pan Onlus has the help of nearly 200 volunteers who offer their time for round-the-clock assistance, and others who offer financial assistance for this completely donation-based house.    

It's a beautiful witness of how, despite suffering, being in community and together as a family, one can overcome any obstacle, no matter how devastating it may be.  

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