Kushum's story - Gujarati

I have always tried to make the best of every situation no matter what is thrown my way, I always start the day smiling and go to bed smiling.

When I was five years old my mother, two younger brothers and I moved to Fiji to be reunited with our father who was running a general store. My father passed away four months after we were reunited and my mother took over the running of the store. Those early years in Fiji were very hard as I helped to look after my younger brothers, help in the store by sewing clothes for tourists and go to school.

In my culture arranged marriages are common and when I was 20 my uncle arranged my marriage to a young man from New Zealand. I was devastated as I had to leave my family and school friends and move to another country and the first three years of my marriage were difficult and lonely. We moved in with my husband’s family and I was expected to work on the dairy farm quickly learning how to milk cows!

I didn’t let my loneliness get to me, I became good friends with one of the ladies on a neighbouring farm and she helped me to find out what was available in the local area so I could make a start. That’s what I did, I would ask the question and if they couldn’t help me, I would be put onto someone else, I didn’t give up. My husband and I had three sons and through them I also met people and made more friends especially when they started school.

After living in New Zealand for about 20 years we moved to Sydney and again had to start over making friends. In total we lived in Sydney for 27 years and when my husband passed away I sold our house and furniture and shared my time between sons living in New South Wales and Victoria as I could not afford to pay the mortgage on my own. I made the permanent move to Victoria in 2011 and once again I started over.

I have always had a strong faith and I think that has helped immensely and every day I am thankful for what I have. As I have gotten older I find that I am stuck in the house because I am not able to drive. I used to drive to my exercise group and met lots of people there, but because of my health, I now rely on others to drive me everywhere so I don’t tend to ask too often as I don’t want to be a burden to them.

I think it is important to be brave, something I learned by example from my mother, having a strong will, and never giving up. Making that first phone call to the community centre although it can be hard is worth it. Even something as simple as talking to neighbours or to people walking by the front garden can make a big difference and help you to find support.

Page last updated: Monday, 10 August 2020