Australia's Favourite 'Yiayia Next Door' Gets A Heartwarming Surprise
The mysterious woman known mostly to Australians as the 'Yiayia next door' is finally going to get to see her family.
The story of Yiayia's relationship with Melbourne brothers Dan and Luke Mancuso is an endearing testament to humanity and one that captured Australians across the country.
In a near-daily ritual, Yiayia -- whose real name is Nina -- cooks for the boys and hands a delicious meal over the fence, often a traditional Greek meal or homemade bread. If they're super lucky, they get Spanakopita, a savoury spinach pie.
"You've gotta sit down then you eat it cause your knees will buckle, I'll tell you that much," Luke told The Project.
Their story is more than a heart-warming tale of neighbourly friendship. In 2013, Nina raised the alarm when she heard a scream for help from next door. Dan and Luke's mother, Teresa Paulino, had been stabbed to death by her ex-husband and the father of her children.
For years, no one set foot in the house, until the brothers decided to honour their mother by moving in. They renovated the home and turned the garage where their mum was killed into a games room, complete with toys from their childhood.
Since the boys moved in next door, Yiayia has taken the boys under her wings, calling them her "grandkids". They document her daily food offerings on the Instagram account @YiayiaNextDoor, which now boasts more than 70,000 followers. They never show her face: only the shy Yiayia's hands are seen, handing the food over.
She even spoke to Tommy from the other fence, revealing her own troubles. Nina's sister in Greece was hospitalised after suffering a stroke, and was half a world away. After her story aired, Tommy told The Project desk how Nina felt helpless. Dan and Luke had mentioned wanting to set up a GoFundMe to send Nina to Europe, but she refused, telling them, "No, it's for sick kids."
Moved by Nina's story, FlightCentre donated a $4,000 travel voucher to reunite Nina with her sister, as well as a brother she hasn't seen in years.
On Monday night, Dan and Luke surprised their Yiayia next door with the voucher and a bottle of Champagne.
Of course, they filmed it for Instagram, and although you never see Nina's face, the joy and warmth in her voice is unmissable. You can watch it in the video above.