Antonela is in her early twenties and starting out on independent life, having graduated from the House of Opportunity in Croatia in February. She has friends, she works as a confectioner and assistant chef, and is looking forward to the future. Life is sweet.
But it wasn’t always so. The awful experience of being rejected by her mother at the age of seven made her distrustful of people and robbed Antonela of much of her childhood. But sometimes, something sweet emerges despite the bitterness.
Antonela suffered a great deal of abuse in her first foster family, and carried the sadness of her own family’s break up. Yet she has a deep desire to create a truly loving family of her own, and was inspired to faith.
Was it her special needs that gave her the determination to keep striving for something better through school?
Was it the experience of sharing a communal kitchen with other poor families whilst staying with her father and brothers, after eleven years in foster care, that turned her toward being a chef?
We can say that at the House of Opportunity in Varaždin, Antonela found new friends around the table as she enjoyed her meals.
She found encouragement to push through and finish her studies.
She found acceptance among the team and residents at the House. No matter what had gone before – here she was loved.
And here she found a new type of family. One that encouraged Antonela to reach for her dream, and find something sweet in life.