Soon enough it’s time to head back to the CBD where I’m being met by Claudia who made contact with me last week. Coincidentally, Claudia’s sister Denise and Father Sergio also got in touch so it was awesome to hear that I’d get the chance to meet all three of them.
Claudia has followed the KF journey for a long time and has always reinforced our message. I want to know more about this special woman as we keep driving. Claudia is impressive. A mother to her 15 month old daughter and wife to her partner Danillo. I learn that both Claudia and Danillio are from Chile. Claud works for the teacher’s federation in Sydney. She is passionate about the little guys and standing up for people in need. She’s just finished up at the marriage equality rally in Sydney when she picks me up. I know that she is strong and incredible in the first 5 minutes of getting to know more about her.
She takes me to her fathers factory; a furniture repair factory. It’s a kindnessfactory in it’s own right. I’m greeted by Sergio. We hug for what feels like 10 minutes. The man is friendly and caring. He welcomes me in to his factory and shows me all sorts of things; chairs, tables, doors, hangers, microwaves- you name it, its there.
We get chatting and I learn more. I knew this man was special. He tells me about his life; why he is so happy to be in this country with his beautiful family. Sergio has lived an amazing story so far. After being sentenced to ‘four years and one day’, Sergio was wrongfully imprisoned and tortured for over 18 months. I learnt that 4 years and 1 day was code for a guarantee to go missing on the ‘one day’. It almost broke me to hear what this man and his family had been through. He spoke about how his wife Iris petitioned to the Catholic Church to fight for his release. I hadn’t yet met Iris but I knew I had to.
What strikes me about the family so far is the caring and gentle nature that they all have. I feel so warm and welcome around them all. Sergio and I keep chatting and I’m blown away when he reveals to me that his secret to overcoming all that he has; in his own words ‘we have to choose to wake up happy’. Sometimes I forget that it can be that simple.
I later learnt that he instils this in his family by his actions. Sergio has a bad back and lives in chronic pain. Getting out of bed most days is a real struggle. He does though and the first thing he does every morning is stand in front of the mirror and say ‘God I’m handsome’. It makes the family laugh and their tone is set for the day.
I jump back in the car with Claud and she tells me what it was like growing up. When the decision was made by her parents to leave Chile and come to Australia, Claudia was 2 years old. The family left with 1 bag containing three blankets. It sort makes the journey that I’m on at the moment seem trivial, but it only gives me more respect and admiration for this family.
Claud learnt two languages while going through school. She tells me how she wrote her own notes to the teachers when her parents weren’t able to at first. While she’s telling me all of this, her daughter is in the back seat of the car and has started to cry. Claud starts to sing and immediately Victoria is calm. She is a wonderful mother. She adores her daughter and it’s easy to see how much love surrounds this entire family.
Once Victoria is settles again, Claud tells me more about her life; about her mother who is the unsung hero of the family and her husband Danillo who went against society norms to marry Claud.
We get back to the family home in Camden and I am introduced to Iris, Sergio’s wife. She is beautiful and caring. Like something out of a cultural movie. She is a Spanish teacher at the local primary school; she’s been there for over 25 years. We connect immediately.
Danillo arrives home after a day at work and I’m greeted with a hug. We head out to the deck where I’m introduced to all sorts of Chilean food that I’ve never tried before. We get chatting some more and the conversation turns to me for a little bit. I share with them how I came to this point. What lead me to start the Kindnessfactory and why I’m on this journey. We cry. For all that has been lost and for what life holds for us down the track. These people are beautiful.
Iris stops me for a moment and whispers to me that she loves so many things. This life is all about love. To love and to be loved. That’s what it all comes down to. I can take a lot from this amazing family. The simplistic view that they have about living is something that I will hold on to forever.
Food is up and there is plenty of it. Pichanga; a Chilean starter, Choricillos, Asado, Pebre, Ensalada Chilena and Tres Leches which is decorated with the famous KF slogan and world map. The food is like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. We chat some more and I catch myself feeling incredibly lucky every so often. It’s a Saturday night in Sydney and I’m amongst amazing company; how could I not be grateful.
I’m off to bed before what’s promised to be and amazing Chilean breakfast.
Estamos sobre el mundo (We’re on top)