Hamilton teacher thanks supporters after family killed in Italy earthquake

Veronica Grondona (centre), daughter Maia (left) and husband Claudio Barbuzza, are devastated at the deaths of Grondona's mother and brother in the central Italy earthquake. Photo/Givealittle.
Veronica Grondona (centre), daughter Maia (left) and husband Claudio Barbuzza, are devastated at the deaths of Grondona's mother and brother in the central Italy earthquake. Photo/Givealittle.

A Hamilton kindergarten teacher, whose mother and brother were killed in Italy's 6.2 magnitude earthquake, is overwhelmed by the love and donations she has received.

Veronica Grondona posted to Facebook thanking family, friends and "those I don't even know" for their support and the over $10,000 raised on the Givealitte page.

At least 250 people were killed and 360 injured in the 3.30am local time earthquake, which brought down hundreds of old buildings and homes across several cities and regions including Amatrice.

The deaths included Grondona's mother Anna Maria Masciolini, 68, and brother Luca Grondona, 35, who were holidaying at their home in Villa San Lorenzo, near Amatrice, about 90km from Rome.

Grondona posted on social media that the donations on the Givealittle page had her "lost for words".

"I would like to say thank you for your love, patience and compassion. Words can not begin to describe how I am feeling but to know that you all support myself and family makes it better.

"My mother and brother weren t always happy about my distance but they will be happy to know that I live in a place where the people are kind, supportive and thoughtful."

Grondona rushed back to Italy a day after the quake on August 25 with her husband Claudio Barbuzza after receiving the devastating news. Their funerals were held on August 29.

Grondona had to leave behind her 15-year-old daughter Maia Barbuzza because of the uncertainty of the situation, as hundreds of aftershocks continue to rattle central Italy.

Grondona, a teacher at Kindy Totz in Queenwood, first heard the tragic news late on August 24 when her brother's body was discovered.

By the next morning her mother's body had also been found.

Grondona's sister Cristina who was based in Rome was faced with identifying the bodies.

Italian news site Tuscia Web reported Masciolini was an active and engaged member of the community.

Tributes were pouring in on social media.

Grondona's colleague and teaching supervisor Emma Shaw said the 37-year-old "just cried" when she revealed the news to friends in Hamilton.

"She's very heartbroken. I don't think she has been home in the last couple of years either so she hasn't seen her mother or brother for about two years."

Shaw said she had set up a Givealittle page to help Grondona and her family through the difficult time.

"She's the most generous, caring, loveliest person that I've ever met.

"The kids just adore her and because she's got that neat accent they think she's so cool."

Shaw said Grondona was popular among parents and a much-loved early childhood teacher who had graduated from Wintec in 2013.

She and her husband had settled in New Zealand with their daughter after years of travelling the world, Shaw said.

They loved New Zealand's lifestyle because it offered easy access to both winter and summer outdoor activities.

A heartfelt tribute from the rest of Grondona's colleagues was posted on Kindy Totz Facebook page.

"Our thoughts are with our Kindy Totz teacher Veronica who has suffered the terrible loss of her close family in the earthquake in central Italy.

"This tragic but distant disaster has suddenly become very real, close and personal to us here at kindy."

The post asked parents and well-wishers to donate if they could.

To donate visit https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/grondonafamily

- NZ Herald

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