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Sending a taste of home to the UK

Marilù Vella is sending 100 dozen pastizzi to the UK to give a little taste of home for Maltese cancer patients and their families. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Marilù Vella is sending 100 dozen pastizzi to the UK to give a little taste of home for Maltese cancer patients and their families. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Hundreds of pastizzi will be flown to the UK to give “a taste of home” to cancer patients and their families, who will be spending Christmas there for treatment.

Sometimes we forget that apart from patients, there are families who would have left everything to be near their loved ones

“Most probably what these people really need is money, since being there is expensive. But I’m giving what I can – a taste of home during Christmas time,” said Marilù Vella, the owner of a small business called Pastizzi Gourmet.

Over the past few weeks she has been busy making dough and 16 different fillings for the 100 dozen pastizzi that were due to leave Malta for Sutton, UK, at 8.30am today.

Ms Vella, 26, was brought up in a family where cooking and baking was part of everyday life.

“We never bought pastry – pastry is something you make,” she said.

About a year ago, when she was between jobs, she started making low-fat pastizzi for friends trying different fillings from the conventional pea and ricotta.

Soon her hobby grew into a business and she set up Pastizzi Gourmet last December.

This year, as Christmas approached, she decided to send some of her culinary creations to friends having cancer treatment in the UK and their families.

“I knew they would love receiving my pastizzi while there. But then I thought: why not do it for all the patients? They’re all in the same boat,” she said.

“Sometimes we forget that apart from patients, there are families who would have left everything behind to be near their loved ones.”

Ms Vella soon learnt there are some 20 Maltese families staying in Sutton.

She started working on her idea and spoke to Air Malta, which immediately accepted to sponsor 50 kilos of weight, translating into 100 dozen cheesecakes.

She also contacted Puttinu Cares for children foundation, which will help her distribute the frozen pastizzi once they arrive at the Sutton apartments.

This is a complex owned by Puttinu Cares to host families of patients undergoing treatment in the UK.

Being a small, growing business, Ms Vella could not afford to send them all from her own pocket.

She donated 16 dozen and reached out for help to reach the target of 100 dozen.

She put out a request on the Pastizzi Gourmet Facebook page asking people to donate pastizzi for cancer patients in the UK at reduced prices.

Within a few days she collected enough money to send more than 200 dozen and will be using the extra cash to hand out her pastizzi to children in hospitals and the elderly in Malta, every month, throughout 2013.

“I have to thank all those who made this possible. I truly am overwhelmed.

“During these times of political differences, it’s nice to see everyone come together for a good cause,” she said.

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