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The Paramus Post - Greater Paramus News and Lifestyle Webzine
Friday, September 30 2016 @ 11:12 PM EDT

First Family Of Paramus Hosts Their First Family From Burma For Paramus Sunrise Rotary Club

Gift of Life Child from Myanmar
When Mayor Rich LaBarbiera and Mary Ann, his wife, learned of the need for a host family for the Paramus Sunrise Rotary Club Gift of Life child, they immediately volunteered. As MaryAnn said " I have three sons and now I have a chance to have a daughter, if only for a little while." The preparations for Mary and her mother took a long time. Coming from Burma, there was a tremendous amount of paperwork to contend with. Sunrise President Sophie Stone went over to Burma/Myanmar to help facilitate the passage and was able to bring them back to the United States with her.

There was excitement when word was received of the impending arrival of the GoL girl. Mary, who is five years old, and her mother were due to arrive at JFK Airport on Tuesday March 11, 2014. Members and Honorary Members of the Paramus Sunrise Rotary Club volunteered in many ways. The outpouring of wishes and gifts were gratifying. The LaBarbieras needed a car seat for Mary and were also given a plush toy to help ease the child's way into the strange country. MaryAnn was equipped with a warm coat for the youngster and her mother since they were coming from a tropical climate.

Five people made the trip from Paramus to JFK in two cars to greet and meet the Burmese family. While the Mayor was too busy to make the trip, Richard, his son, came along and supplied much needed muscle power. Of course our GoL child was a bit overwhelmed, but her host mother, MaryAnn, quickly put her at ease. This despite the fact that neither Mary nor her mother spoke any English. As a matter of fact, even Sophie Stone, who speaks the language, had a communication learning process because the two came from a remote village where they spoke a dialect indigenous to their own group.

Mary and her mother were warmly welcomed by all the LaBarbieras and given their own sleeping quarters in the house. When asked on the following day how everything was, the Mayor replied that they were wonderful to be with! A perfect reply from such a warm host family!

Gift of Life is a program established by the Rotarians in the Northeast to bring over children from underdeveloped countries that need cardiac care. Several area hospitals volunteer to participate and share in the costs. It takes a donation of $6,000.00 plus a host family for someone to sponsor a child. While the Paramus Sunrise Rotary Club has already sponsored a couple of children, this was a joint venture with Trinity Presbyterian Church in Paramus. Sophie and her husband, Sam, are members of that church where Sam is the Pastor.

by Mel Fabrikant

Mel is a longtime Paramus resident and has belonged to many Paramus organizations. He is responsible for bringing the Scholarship Show to town and seeing to it that the initial presentation went over well. His five offspring were brought up through the Paramus school system. In addition, he is a longtime Paramus Rotary member.

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