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Little Yianni passed away but ‘Project Generosity’ keeps his memory alive by helping others

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Loss, pain, tears, humanity, support, love, hope…

In these -sometimes contradictory words- one could summarize the story behind Sydney based not-for-profit organisation, “Project Generosity”.

A project that began as a gesture of support from one mother to another, from Australian mum and social worker Jasmine to Greek Australian mum Gina, and evolved into a support net for families who struggle.

For the last four years, Jasmine and the organisation’s volunteers prepare ‘smile boxes’, boxes full of gifts, to offer comfort to families who need it.

“Yianni means God is generous, and I named the organisation as a tribute to Yianni,” Project Generosity Founder and CEO, Jasmine Issa, told The Greek Herald.

But this is how it all started.

Yiannis’ story

“After trying for 3 years we finally learnt we were pregnant with our miracle boy Yianni. On 11th May 2013 our son was born, his heart was beating perfectly and seemed to be a healthy boy. His kidney function was not 100%, but other than that things seemed fine. After 9 days in special care we got to take our boy home,” said Gina Kaly, Yianni’s mother.

Six months later, Yianni was diagnosed with epilepsy and, according to his mum, he could have up to 100 seizures a day. His development was severely delayed and by the age of 18 months he could no longer eat orally.

“In January 2015 we were told that our Yianni ‘would not see old bones’ and that they did not feel as though he had many years to live. This, was never something we expected to hear even with Yiannis undiagnosed condition, he was our boy, he was normal to us, even with all the challenges he faced he was always smiling,” Gina said, explaining how important the support of friends, family and the wider community was during these hard times.

Gina (L) and Jasmine (R) with Project Generosity ‘smile boxes.’ Photo supplied.

The Australian social worker and her gesture of support

When social worker and mum Jasmine heard Yiannis’ story, she decided she had to do something to comfort Gina and her family.

“A friend told me Gina’s story. She wanted to organise a gift for her friend Gina after she was given some very difficult news about her son. As a mum of two at the time, that sort of grief and pain is unimaginable. I still clearly remember feeling an ache in my heart when I heard the news, and felt the desire to help somehow.

“I suggested reaching out to the community and some businesses on social media to arrange a “smile box” for this family,” said Jasmine.

In July 2015, as she was collecting the gifts and donations, Jasmine was given the news that Yianni had passed away.

Project Generosity smile boxes in the making. Photo supplied.

The ‘smile box’ was given to Gina as a ‘comfort box’ and Jasmine didn’t get to meet Yianni, but a bigger idea was born.

“I continued to do more boxes for other struggling families. I named the organisation ‘Project Generosity’ as a tribute to Yianni. He is the reason this organisation exists and he will always be at the heart of what we do,” Jasmine said.

“In a world where there is so much sadness and hurt, we can all sit back and complain but I refuse to do that. I want to remind people that kindness exists, and allow people to feel some sense of hope and comfort through the act of giving,” she concludes.

To learn more about Project Generosity visit: https://bit.ly/ProjectGenerosity

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