Taking Time to Find Her Way

Viniththa Vasanthakumar, Bathurst

I had to find a new way to live in Australia. I had to find a way to live without him by my side.

All I could see was the ocean around me.

My dad and I had boarded a boat 3 days earlier, leaving our family in Sri Lanka. I had fallen asleep, and awoke to the ocean surrounding me. That was the moment I found out that we were headed to Australia, for a better future.

After 21 days on the boat, my dad and I arrived in Australia. We spent 14 days in the refugee camp on Christmas Island before moving to Adelaide, then to Sydney and finally to Bathurst.

Moving to Australia has been challenging at times. The cultural differences, being away from my family and the language barriers were all obstacles that we had to overcome. Before I got here I didn’t know any English, I couldn’t even say “hello”.

I started school in Australia going to special classes just to learn English. Over time, I learned to read and write in English. I would help my dad too. It was difficult in the classroom, with the language barriers, but I kept going. I completed my HSC.

When my dad passed away suddenly in 2016, I had to find a new way to live in Australia. I had to find a way to live without him by my side.

My family in Sri Lanka are always my biggest support. They stand by my side. And while I can’t go back to Sri Lanka to see them, I speak with my mum and my 5 sisters on the phone often. The connection can be poor, so I don’t always get to see their faces, but it’s so nice to hear their voices.

During these tough times, I was very lucky to have special people in Australia who supported me. They taught me to be a woman, how to look after myself and also about the Australian culture. I am very thankful for all they have done and continue to do for me.

Through all the challenges, I’ve found you have to do what makes you happy.

I have always loved kids. When I see them smile, I just have to smile too.

I decided to study childcare at TAFE when I finished high school and I am now working towards my Diploma.

I just love it. Going to work and seeing the kids brings me so much joy.