Amidst a backdrop of sadness, abandonment, and despair, a cherubic little boy, all bright eyes and wide smiles, gifts his own toys to children who have gone through most of their young lives with nothing.
Little Gabriel Kazanis is not yet 2 years old but has already experienced important life lessons thanks to his philanthropic mum Anna Papoutsakis, who has been travelling back and forth between Australia and Vietnam raising money for orphans for 10 years, and his father, Jason Kazanis, world traveler, one of Australia’s leading auctioneers and without a doubt the most fun person to ever walk into those orphanages.
As individuals, they are inspirational, as a family they are unstoppable. Enchanting photos of Gabriel on his very first trip to Vietnam, show him befriending children of various abilities and ages, showing them love in the most innocent of ways, a caring look of concern, a tight cuddle and sharing all that he had to offer. These are the kids he had been hearing about for months, and they, having loved Anna like a mother, show him adoration in return.
For Anna and Jason, it was a special trip, being able to bring their son to the orphanages that had captured their hearts. “I have been brought up in a house where our empathy, not just sympathy, was cultivated and that we should help where we can,” Anna says. “I have connected with this country, its people and communities and it’s hard for me to stop returning. I am emotionally invested and really feel like I am a part of their journey. It is the best feeling when I get the report cards from the children we support to stay in school. Or when I receive a letter written from them where they tell me how the cow I bought has changed their life and given them hope to go on and strive for excellence to break their poverty cycle.”
Jason is no stranger to helping raise money for important causes and charities, such as Beyond Blue and research for Motor Neurone Disease. As one of Australia’s most sought after auctioneers, he brings the full throttle of passion, determination and an innate way of revving up a crowd to dip into their pockets with his gavel. Making his first visit to Vietnam shortly after he met Anna, his connection with the kids, and the magnitude of what these trips mean to him are evident in the photos which document their journey.
“Going to visit these orphanages for the first time was a very moving experience for me,” says Jason. “My mum had been in an orphanage in Egypt and had spoken to me about it quite a bit. Even though I was in rural Vietnam, I felt like I was connecting with my mum’s childhood. Some of these kids are orphans, but some have parents or one parent who cannot afford to keep them, which is why they take them to the orphanage.
Visiting the orphanage was a totally different world for Gabriel. I’d like for him to understand how fortunate he is and that when he grows up he too can make an impact.”
This past Christmas, Anna, Jason and Gabriel held a party for 15 families. Fifty humans whose lives have been changed because of generous donations to Mission Nam’possible, the name of Anna’s fundraising drive.
Amongst the many things that have been achieved by Mission Nam’possible are building 7 houses, supporting 30 children with scholarships for their education and buying 32 cows that help sustain these families.
“Knowing these kids for the last 10 years and watching them grow has been a very special thing for me and Jason,” Anna says. “Having them meet Gabriel and watching them interact makes my heart burst with love. They were so good with him and he was very gentle with them!”
For more information (and heartwarming photos) about the stories and how you can get involved, visit missionnampossible.