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Mississauga honors tireless efforts of Croatian-born dynamo

Toronto Star - Jan 13, 1994 (Section MS)

Ana Ganza has barely has time to sleep - she’s too busy contributing to her community. Most nights, the Mississauga mother of three doesn't get to bed until 2 or 3 a.m. because she's laboring on projects ranging from food drives to to charity fundraising. Last month the City of Misssissauga rewarded her with a civic award of recognition for her 10 years of tireless community effort. In 1977, the 45-year-old Croatian-born came to Canada to build a new life for herself with husband Kresimir and sons Ivan, 20, Marko 17 and Petar, 15.

A teacher at St Martin Secondary School, she's organized food drives for needy local families, an Amnesty International chapter the students and charity fashion shows for Dr. Simon's Fund and the Cancer Society. "I was brought up to reach out and help others stand up for what is right, says Ganza.

As for her work with the Croatian community, Ganza says "for every immigrant, it's important to cherish your own and heritage ... if you take your culture, you take away dignity. She is on the boards of several Croatian organizations such as Canadian-

She taught me patience, helped replenish my faith

Toronto Star - September 13, 1997

Ana took a suitcase full of clothes with her when she went to Calcutta last summer to volunteer at Mother Teresa's order. But the     Mississauga high school teacher was taken aback when she discovered that the nuns made do with "just two saris, one pair of sandals and a bucket to carry them in." "The sister in charge asked, 'Are all these belongings yours?' " recalled Ganza in an interview yesterday. "I thought of my two walk-in closets back in Canada and I was so embarassed. Ganza returned home six weeks later without the suitcase and its contents and donated much of her superfluous wardrobe to charity. "I found beauty in simplicity (Mother Teresa's) presence and learned not to look for material things but for spiritual rewards," Ganza said. It was the first of several lessons she learned on her "journey of hope," working with the nun known worldwide as the Saint of the gutters. In 1995, Ganza sent Mother Teresa a laudatory poem she had written about her and received a personal invitation to visit the mission in return. The following year, the single mother of three sons spent six weeks with the Missionaries of Charity order in Calcutta tending babies, teaching English to older

Picture of Ana Ganza
Picture of Ana Ganza with Mother Teresa

Croatian Business and Professional Association and Canadian-Croatian Women's Association. Ganza is head teacher at the Croatian Heritage school and introduced her language as an international credit course of the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board. When she talks about the war-tom state of her native country after visiting this past summer, her voice speaks with sadness. "Its such an unnecessary and unjustified war ... so many lives have been wasted, so many churches, schools destroyed for no reason." Ganza attended a conference in Zagreb and toured areas with 30 others. She also held poetry readings from her first published book, Old Fireplaces, to support the sick, injured and children who lost their parents in war. "Wherever we went I read poetry ... my weapon was poetry and my love for others," to says Ganza. "Being a Croatian, this has emotionally destroyed me."

children and administering to lepers - her toughest task. "I could not imagine that a human being could be exposed to so much pain. Some of them were just an open walking wound," Ganza said. "Still, they were happy m their confined community. They offer hope." The woman said her most memorable moments were her private meetings with Mother Teresa. "I have never seen a person who is so warm and respectful and who pays complete attention to whomever she's with," Ganza said. "I found her to be a superb listener, and even though her answers aren't long, they are powerful and meaningful. "She taught me patience, helped me replenish my faith and guides me to look deeper into my own spirituality." Ganza kept a diary throughout her stay and got perrmission from Mother Teresa to write a book about her experiences. She hopes to complde the work by the end of the year and will send half of the proceeds to the mission in Calcutta.

Poet writes to ease Croatia's pain

The Mississauga News - October 21, 1994

After an emotionally charged reading of her latest poetry, Erin Mills resident Ana Ganza recently launched her second book of poems - Forever Living Past - about her native Yugoslavia. Having fled communist Yugoslavia in 1977 with her two sons and husband, after his release as a political prisoner, Ganza is no stranger to the strife that today scars her homeland. They spent a year in an Italian refugee camp before coming to Canada, adding to her hardship, but nothing prepared her for the turmoil, brutality, loss, torture and destruction she witnessed on a return to her country in July 1993. While there representing the Croatian schools of Ontario at the Croatian War Congress, Ganza and - others were taken on a tour of wartorn Bosnia and Croatia. "After seeing the horror and after seeing the results of the atrocities being performed, learning about lost lives, cultural monuments being destroyed and cities being burned, I decided to tour on my own," Ganza said. "Four times I was within 300 metres of the shooting."


Positive feedback

For Ganza writing was at first a way to deal with her pain. She said that positive feedback prompted her to publish her first book of poetry, entitled Old Hearth. Ganza graduated from the University Of Zagreb and the University of Toronto after studying education and economics. "I'm to raise awareness of the pain my Croatian people are going through. The pain of the Croatian people is the pain of my poetry," Ganza said. "I want politicians in charge to take more serious action to stop the bloodshed, to stop the war." Ganza read several of her poems in Croatian and English to an audience at her book launch, held at the Crystal Palace banquet hall in 'Rexdale. Proceeds from the evening go to the orphans of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ganza, a mother of three, donated about $10,000 - proceeds from her first book - to help orphans through a children's fund. Some of the money was used to buy artificial limbs. Attending the launch was professor Michael McAdams from the University of San Francisco, a Croatian and Slavic specialist who has published seven monographs, including his latest, Croatia Myth And Reality. "I'm impressed about how she is able to address the feelings," McAdams said of Ganza's work "It's very unusual to read it and feel it, that same emotion that you see in people's eyes in refugee camps." As an active member of the Mississaugan community, Ganza has worked hard to introduce Grade 11, Grade 12 and OAC courses taught in Croatian language to the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board. She received a Civic Award Of Recognition from the City of M in 1993. Ganza has many charity events and food drives to help her and has arranged Croatian film screenings, theatrical performances and lectures for students. She's a staff representative for professional development of teachers with the Ontario Catholic Teachers Association, a staff advisor for the mission club and the chapter of Amnesty International at St. Martin Secondary School, where she teaches Croatian Ianguage classes. Forever Living Past is published in Croatian and English by Angel Publishing.



Mother Teresa honored at Parkdale mission

Toronto Star - September 12, 1997

Metro is grieving for the "Saint of the gutters."

At a modest Parkdale mission founded by 87-year-old Mother Teresa, mourners prayed yesterday and brought flowers to an outdoor shrine. "We said a prayer for peace. We sang psalms. It was beautiful," said Ana Ganza computer teacher at St. Martin's Catholic High School, in Mississauga. Ganza was one, of about thirty 'who attended a funeral mass at the Dunn Ave. Missionaries of Charity for the European - born nun. And tomorrow at noon, Mother Teresa's praises will be sung at a funeral Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral, at Bond and Shuter Sts. Ganza recalled how she flew to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa last summer, helping her mentor look after lepers, poor children and disadvantaged. The Mississauga woman proudly showed three letters she received from Mother Teresa for her aid. Ganza said she mourned two heroes yesterday - Mother Teresa and Diana, the Princess of Wales. She had written them both poems and had received letters from both in return. "They, were both compassionate and they both had an extraordinary love for children and to help those who are suffering," Ganza said. "Mother Teresa is the queen of holiness and goodness and Diana, Princess of Wales, is the queen of people's hearts." The late princess was calling the hospital on a regular basis" to check on the ailing nun in Calcutta last summer, she recalled.

Uloga Ane Ganza zivotu hrvatske zajednice kanadske drzave Ontario (5/9/98)

Prilog Nine Radman

Od dolaska u Kanadu, 1977. godine, Ana Ganza ima istaknutu ulogu u zivotu hrvatske zajednice juznog dijela kanadske drzave Ontario u ocuvanju kulture njihove domovine za mlade generacije. Nastavnica u gimnaziji i majka trojice sinova, Ana Ganza je tijekom godina primila mnoga odlicja kojima joj je hrvatska zajednica zahvalila i za profesionalni rad, ali i za neumorne humanitarne napore. Gotovo odmah po dolasku u Kanadu, gospodja Ganza je pocela organizirati dobrotvorne akcije, te promovirati hrvatsku kulturu, a tako je i nastavila slijedecih 20 godina. Trenutno, ona zivi i radi u predgradju Toronta, Mississaugi, gdje vodi program po nazivu Nasljedje hrvatskog jezika, organizira brojna kulturna zbivanja i sudjeluje u radu nekoliko organizacija za humanitarnu pomoc. Program Nasljedje hrvatskog jezika ima vrlo vaznu ulogu u okupljanju hrvatske zajednice, te ucenju djece da cijene svoje podrijetlo. Isprva je Ana Ganza poducavala hrvatski jezik djecu u dobi od vrtica pa do osmog razreda osnovne skole. Medjutim, na njezin je prijedlog kanadsko Ministarstvo obrazovanja ukljucilo nastavu hrvatskog jezika i u gimnazije i srednje skole, te ucenici sada mogu nastaviti uciti hrvatski jezik bilo subotom ujutro ili u vecernjim satima. Godisnje, oko stotinu pedeset srednjoskolaca u Mississaugi pohadja nastavu hrvatskog jezika. 1991. godine, po izbijanju rata u Hrvatskoj, Ana Ganza je pocela pisati pjesme u pokusaju da se nosi s tragedijama koje su se zbivale u njezinoj domovini. Nedavno, njezine su pjesme objavljene u dvije zbirke: Old Hearth - Staro Ognjiste, i Forever Living Past - Proslost vjecno prozivljavana. 1995. godine napisala je pjesmu Majci Terezi, zeni kojoj se neizmjerno divila i koja joj je bila inspiracijom. Odgovorivsi joj osobno, Majka Tereza je pozvala gospodju Ganzu u Kalkutu kako bi radila sa siromasnima i bolesnima. Pocascena pozivom, provela je sest ljetnih tjedana 1996. godine u Kalkuti, radeci rame uz rame s Majkom Terezom, brinuci za bebe, uceci stariju djecu engleski, te skrbeci za gubavce. Ana Ganza sada druge uci lekcijama koje je sama naucila od Majke Tereze. Trenutno pise knjigu o svojim iskustvima iz Kalkute, koja ce biti prevedena i na hrvatski, a, uz to, i dalje pise pjesme. Na prvu obljetnicu smrti Majke Tereze, 6. rujna Anina je jedina zelja da ljudi i dalje odaju pocast zivotu te iznimne zene uceci iz njezine nesebicne predanosti drugima.





  • The Sunday Sun, Toronto, Canada

  • Toronto Star, Toronto, Canada

  • Mississauga News, Mississauga, Canada

  • Soundings, Mississauga, Canada

  • Statesman, Calcutta, India

  • Imartedi, Bologna, Italy

  • Zajednicar, Pittsburgh, USA

  • Matica Iseljenika, Zagreb, Croatia

  • Literary Weekly, Zagreb, Croatia

  • Pleter. Munich, Germany

  • Vjesnik, Zagreb, Croatia

  • Besida, Toronto, Canada

  • Gaudeamus, Toronto, Canada

  • Vecernji List, Zagreb, Croatia



Media: Radio/TV Interviews

  • "PROFILE - Ana Ganza" by Rogers TV, Mississauga

  • "ACCOLADES" by Rogers TV, Mississauga (Interview & Poetry reading)

  • Croatian Radio - CCN TV, Toronto, Canada

  • Croatian Radio and Television, Zagreb, Croatia

  • Croatian Radio Program Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

  • Croatian Radio Program, Cleveland, U.S.A.

  • Croatian Radio Program, Edmonton, Canada

  • Croatian Radio Program, Calgary, Canada

  • Croatian Radio Program, Munich, Germany

  • Croatian Radio Programs; Osijek, Novska, Zupanja, Split

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