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.”