Stella Stefanides was born fifty-four years ago in a small village by the Greek-Bulgarian border. Her life reads like a fictional story about deprivation, loss, love and hardships. This woman, whom I am referring to happens to be my grandmother. Her life is truly inspiring because she has overcome many difficulties and continues to be the glue that holds my family together.
Stella was born in the time of the civil war in Greece. Her parents had many babies but they would all die after being removed from their mothers’ womb, which was very common at the time due to the lack of medical assistance. After dealing with the death of five babies, Theano, Stella's mom, was convinced that her dreams of having children were never to be realized. Even as a baby, Stella was a fighter. She fought for her little life and won. That's where she got her name "Stiliani," which means strong in Greek. That name truly captures the essence of her. Growing up was hard. Dealing with the war, the conflicts, the poverty, Stella, just like any other child, had to work. Because she is a female, school was not a priority. Although she wanted to help her family, she insisted on going to school. Craving to learn something new, to explore the world beyond her village borders; she told her parents that she would never leave school. She was willing and able to do both. They agreed, as long as it wouldn't interfere with her work. Deep down inside, her parents were happy that they had a headstrong, smart daughter. School and work weren't easy for Stella. Adding to the picture was a new brother, Savva. Taking care of him while her parents were at the fields became her responsibility. The responsibilities of school, work, takin...
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...oss and makes all the decisions. Every customer and community member knows and loves "Mamma Stella." She listens, smiles and is always ready with a kind word and a hug. She yells when you don't finish your food and is generous with goods she bakes in her kitchen.
Stella is an individual who fully embodies the "American Dream." She has had to fight to get where she is and she is passionate about staying there. Her family always comes first and their problems are hers. Stella is admired by many for her love, strength and fierce determination. These qualities were given to her so that she would make a difference in people's lives. She has taken those tools in hand and successfully crafted an amazing life for herself and her family.
I am honored and lucky that Grandma Stella is a part of my life. She inspires me to achieve great things. I am who I am because of her.
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