Jeanne: My name is Jeanne Ciampa. My horses' names are Shadow and Indy. He came with a really weird name which I changed to Indy. I'm told that Shadow is 16. And Indy is nine. They have similar markings, Indy has got a different kind of coat. He's also much bigger and he has a very elegant face. And Shadow has gray hair.
Rick: Let's go back to the first horse you had after the car accident.
Jeanne: Yes, I decided to go to this farm down the street and just randomly take care of rescue horses. And I just volunteered but I fell in love with this one horse that was very ill. He was a beautiful Welsh pony.
The very terrible person taking care of him said, you have two weeks to get that horse into your backyard or we're sending them to the meat market. So I called a builder and had a little Japanese lean-to built in the back yard and took care of him for three years.
My mom died a year ago and a few months later I had to put the pony down. So it was a very traumatic couple of months. But as luck would have it, shortly after I put my horse down, the same woman at that horse farm said, I have heart failure and I have to get rid of all my horses and there is one horse that would be perfect for you.
So I went down and I met Shadow which was one of those love at first sight things. This horse would never go up to anybody, of course, he came up to me. I always wanted a Pinto and this one just stole my heart.
Rick: And then what?
Jeanne: A few months later the same woman told me she has another horse in a bad situation. The owner had gone to Argentina and now she has to get rid of him or he's gonna go to auction. So she brings Indy over. The two horses started talking to each other before Indy was out of the trailer. They were calling back and forth as if it was a completion because they were both so lonely. I've never seen two horses completely bond so quickly. You cannot take them away from each other or they get very upset. We now have a trainer who works with them and will be teaching Troy how to ride, he's never ridden before. He's learning a lot about horses. And we have a neighbor that has a pasture and he said we can use it any time.
Rick You don't ride?
Jeanne: I do. Well, I'm a city girl. I lived outside of Boston, a city girl that fell in love with horses. So I started working with the race horses as a hot walker. And then the passion just followed me through life. On and off I've been taking care of people's horses my whole life. This is my dream come true, just having a couple of horses.
Rick: Let's fill in some of the gaps about the car accident, the career you lost and helping a young boy escape the violence in Gaza.
Jeanne: Well, it's kind of a crazy story. I started doing this work in 2014 with the Palestinians during the 2014 war. I met Amir through a forum called Americans Against Genocide in Gaza. And after I saw the way he was living I just knew I had to help him. It was really horrible how he was living. It was insane. And beyond sad. He had lived through three wars and seen too much death and destruction.
It was really hard to get him here because he's from a place that's considered a terrorist village. The Hamas group is located there, so I couldn't get him a visa. And there's no embassy to help. There are no planes or trains. There's simply no way in or out. It's like an open air prison. Every way is blocked off. So I prayed.
I needed to get him out. I applied for him to attend a school here. He needed something called an I-20. But to get that homeland security document you have to pay twenty five thousand dollars. I'm single. A music teacher. And I didn't have that kind of money lying around.
In my car, I pulled over and I prayed. On the way home, about fifteen minutes later, while stopped at a stop sign, a car slammed head-on into mine. Doesn't sound like a blessing to have someone texting while driving crash into your stopped car. Both my knees were crushed. I have problems with my spine and my sacroiliac joint. My wrist was broken. My diaphragm was crushed. I now have a hiatal hernia they can't fix. I can't sing any more and singing was my gift. I lost my ability to run, which I really enjoyed. Now, I largely live in pain.
Jeanne: The car accident was actually a blessing because I'm here and Amir is now out of that situation. It took 12 people. CNN Peter Morris from CNN. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a minister from Plenty of Potential Free from Jordan. The assistant to the Israeli ambassador, Martin :helped us. The dean of Syracuse University. The dean of Middlesex Community College. Many, many, many other people. Nathan Stock from the Carter Center. All these people came together to get him out because he had worked as a translator for CNN. And he was a really special boy.
Jeanne We worked really, really hard. But finally, all hope was lost. We weren't getting anywhere. I think he got his US visa but he was sent back to Gaza. The borders were closed. I didn't have the money for the I-20. And then I heard God say, "On your birthday, you're going to get the gift that your father never gave you."
And I had a really deadbeat dad, so that was meaningful to me. Amir got through the border. Unbelievable because the Egyptian border is only open three days a year. Yet, he got through. And on my birthday I got a check for thirty nine thousand dollars from the car accident.
On that day, I drove to Glassman's Glass to I picked up the check. I drove to my bank and deposited the check. I drove to Middlesex Community College and got the I-20.
Amir was flying from Gaza to Germany and on to Boston. If I didn't have that document for him they were going to send him back. I met him at the airport and now he lives here in our house.
Amir had to sneak into Ramallah in the middle of the night. He climbed the Jerusalem wall on a rope and jumped off the other side where a nun smuggled him into her home and then smuggled Amir into the embassy. The next day, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Martin Fledflaks called Consular General Donald Bloem together with George Bruno, a retired diplomatic attorney, who had prepare Amir's case, made Amir's case. Yes, everything came together and Amir got his visa.
I actually have a letter here from George Bruner, who just recently gave us a donation because he's an engineering student. This year Amir will complete his engineering degree at UMass Lowell. He knows how to drive. Now he knows about the American culture. He speaks fluent English.
Initially I thought the horses would be really good therapeutic. He had extremely bad PTSD. I would find him hunched in the kitchen. He would sleep with the light on. Just a mess. He's come so far. He's really an amazing person.
My son is a screen film student who wrote his first screenplay on Amir's life. And it was accepted by a production company. Hopefully, the story will be told. When Amir was 16 years old he was walking to school with his friend. That was their crime, walking to school. They encountered sniper fire from the Israeli soldiers, the IDF. And they proceeded to systematically murder his friend. They just kept shooting the boy. Amir escaped with one bullet. And then they blew up his friend. Right in front of him. They were trying to make him look like a suicide boomer. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
I'm not I'm not pro-Israel. Or Anti-Israel. I'm just pro-peace. I'm six percent Jewish. I'm not a self-hating Jew. I basically don't want to see anybody get hurt. What is the real what's the answer anyway?
The accident left me with these crazy seizures. I can't sing anymore. I miss that. But I can teach music. The horses help keep me alive. They keep me moving.
Rick My guess is your horses feel something is wrong and act accordingly.
Jeanne Yes. As you probably know, horses are very sublime and I really think it started with Phinney, my first horse. I called him Phinney because he was going to the meat market. And I felt there's no freaking way that horse is going to the meat market. Phinney is definitely my horse. Phinney opened my eyes to my dreams. I was a city girl who never had a of money. I put myself through school. I was a musician and a theologian. I just never had a lot of money. And I really never thought that I could own a horse.
Having Phinney, even though he was very sick, and being able to take care of them. The way that you bond with them through trust and time taught me a lesson about humans. I've always given my trust and got blown away.
And Phinney taught me to take my time. Time to learn. Time to just say hello.
The other day I went out there and India, who is a love bug, came down and breathed on me. They put out this energy that just melts you. For me, it's sympatico. They feeling my love and I feel their love. We don't have to speak any words. We feel each other. I'm very intuitive and horses are really intuitive and they tell you things with their body language. They make you stop talking and make you look and listen. And not enough people do that.
You know I'm digressing. I won my first Native American Grammy a couple years ago, even though I was sick. And I got to meet Chief Saginaw. And he was like a horse. He was like a magnificent creature. He was just silent. All I could do was like bowed my head. I could say nothing. I mean, horses are just subtle. We love their body language. We love their passion. We love their silliness. So I feel like they heal me in two ways. They make me move my body because no one else is gonna take care of them. I have to get up even though I hurt. I get up and I forget about my pain because I have take care of my horses. That's one way they heal me. And the other way they heal me, when both my kids went off to college I felt the emptiness, depression, sadness. And they know how to fill that void.
Shadow was dumped. His family just dumped him. And Indy was loved. He was really loved. But they sadly had to part. And I knew how they felt when I met met them. Indy had a broken heart. If you go up to him and whisper, I love you, he says thank you. He puts his little foot up. He has all several little loving gestures that someone definitely taught him. He hugs you with his head. Shadows is less trusting, he wants to know if you are going to screw him over.
Rick: What's the funniest thing you've ever seen them do that to make you laugh out loud?
Jeanne: He didn't have India and it was almost wintery outside. All the dogs were outside and running around the yard with Shadow. As darkness feel the dogs came in. So Indy saw no fun in being left outside and he walked up the stairs onto the deck in the dark. And he started coming inside. He was coming in. He was right there.