Andrea begins to tell the story of his daughter and their family through a letter on the eighth birthday anniversary of her daughter Naeomi, a story in which they have had to face obstacles, illness, and suffering. Still, it’s a beautiful story, full of life, faith and hope.
Noemi is a girl with spinal muscular atrophy, yet in her condition, Noemi paints with the only arm she can move, and her drawings are full of heart and color —like her brightly painted nails — and enthusiasm and kindness. They seem to reflect the soul of the artist herself.
At the age of three months, Noemi was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type one (SMA1). They received the diagnosis on October 17, 2012, said his father. However, since that diagnosis, his little daughter has changed his life and who he is as a person. He is grateful as he reflects on how much has changed for the better.
After the diagnosis, the Sciarretta family decided to go on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. In the storms of life, they sought a safe haven, and they entrusted themselves to their Mother. Thus, it was there that they decided to start the Project Noemi non-profit organization.
This project was started with the aim of raising health workers’ awareness of SMA1, supporting scientific research, and providing financial aid to families who live with this disease, in the hope of improving, as much as possible, the quality of life for sufferers of this illness.
Furthermore, Andrea wrote a letter to Pope Francis in which he told the pontiff the lessons that Noemi had taught him with her fragile yet powerful life; but to Andrea’s great surprise, the Holy Father telephoned him and invited him and his whole family to Casa Santa Marta (where Pope Francis lives in the Vatican). “What a great gift.”
They met the Holy Father, who spent a long time with them. They even had the extraordinary experience of being able to go to confession with him. He then offered them housing for the night so that he could meet with them again and have lunch with them.
Shortly afterwards, the pope made the greatest and most surprising gesture, by asking all those present to pray for Noemi.
Andrea and his family were happily overwhelmed by what felt like an infinite sea of prayers. They received letters from all over the world, and expressions of friendship and affection, along with donations for Noemi’s association. It was an unexpected and beautiful tumult of love!
From that time on, their friendship with the pope continued. They saw him again in 2016, and on that occasion the Pontiff gave Noemi his papal zucchetto.