Glamour & Boudoir

Airbrush by Ashlee Kate Make-up Artistry session

Ashlee, owner of Airbrush by Ashlee Kate Make-up Artistry, saw some of my previous work and she loved it.  She wanted new images for her website and so we planned a session where she showcased her work.  I loved this session and loved how she played with different colours lipstick.

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Victoria Secret inspired Boudoir session

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Marie Antoinette inspired Boudoir photo session

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Beauty and the Beach

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Click here to see more of this gorgeous beach shoot

This past Sunday afternoon we had some fun on the beach with THIS gorgeous model.  Jaquillyn Mariah is a stunning Perth based model, blessed with the face of an angel and a crown of hair every girl dreams of 🙂  This was our 2nd time photographing Jaquillyn;  the first time she was part of our Forest Queen shoot.  In Jaquillyn’s words … we make a good team … and I so agree with her statement 🙂  Gorgeous make-up done by  the very talented Jane of Make me Beautiful Jane  added to the perfection of this shoot.  I love working with these ladies.

Until next time …

xxx Natasha

Merise Magazine Mini Make-over Photo session

Today I am sharing 3 mini Make-over sessions which was arranged by the Merise Magazine.  Suzette, editor of this magazine wanted to treat these 3 ladies with gorgeous hair done by Maria Hefer of Love that hair & make-up done by Alicia Botha as well as a gorgeous photo shoot to remind them how special and beautiful they all are.  I wanted to bring a little touch of playfulness and fun and combine that with gorgeous images.  I love to use tulle, flowers and interesting things like the lace curtains I bought at Salvos which I put to great use with Leana’s shoot 🙂 .

We had loads of laughs and fun … these 3 girls definitely met and found their “Inner model” 🙂

Since I am running a series on Immigrant women, I asked the ladies to write something short about themselves and their immigration experience.  So meet these gorgeous ladies …

Mariska Button, Leana Jonker & Ilse Roets. 🙂

 

First up is gorgeous Mariska Button

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 Click HERE to view more of beautiful Mariska’s photo’s

Mariska wrote the following:

“I am Mariska Button, mother to 3 busy boys aged 10, 8 and 3.  I was born, raised and married in South Africa to my sweetheart Darrell and we had our first 2 children in Pretoria.  We came on a two year work assignment to Perth in October 2008, and the initial 2 year period turned into permanent residency and then Australian citizenship!

For us the decision to migrate from South Africa only happened a few years after we have made the physical move to Australia.  We genuinely did not even consider such a big move as we are both very close to our parents, siblings and other extended family.  The thought of moving to another country never even occurred to us before I received a phone call from an accounting firm in Perth.  As it turns out, I had previously spoken to the person on the other side of the phone call as a reference for someone who used to work with me in the Pretoria office of the International accounting firm I worked for.  They asked me whether I would be interested in a transfer to Perth and offered to take care of all the relocation expenses and admin for the family.  I told them I would think about it.  After some long discussions with Darrell, we decided it might be enriching (and fun….) to go on such an assignment, but that we would prefer a long term(2 year) secondments with the firm I work for rather than a permanent contract with another firm.

We spoke to the secondments team, received an offer and everything started happening very quickly.  Because visas, transport, first few weeks of accommodation and shipping was all taken care of it seemed we had it all and will just have a load of fun and no worries.  So there we were 2 months later and we were having a going-away barbeque with all the extended family wishing us good luck and asking a lot of questions and we were still having lots of fun (no tears at this stage)  Our house was all packed up and boxed, all furniture and belongings crated, and here we were staying with my parents with our luggage consisting of 6 large suitcases and a few pieces of cabin luggage, waiting for our flight to Perth International Airport.  We made the decision so quickly and we were so sure it will only be for 2 years that we never even bothered to visit Perth (or Australia for that matter) before packing up and leaving.  That’s part of the fun right!  The tears came in a flood at the airport when the goodbye was the goodbye and the kiss and hug from my Mum and Dad felt like the very last kiss and hug I would get from these precious people in my life.  My Dad was convinced we still had at least an hour before our flight and therefore wanted us to stay just that little bit longer, but luckily we left when we left.  Anyone who have been through those gates and have said goodbye to dear family members will know what I mean if I say it is very easy to miss your flight due to not bargaining on how far you will walk to the boarding gate with a then 2 year old and a 4 year old on your hip and loads of cabin luggage (because that last little thing and the important little toy and the ‘this’ and the ‘that’ could no longer fit into the already overloaded check-in bags.)  And then it felt like everything hit all at once. WHAT ARE WE DOING?????  We started to walk with a steady pace as we realized that we have not really allowed enough time! In the process we went through the boarding gate, tickets checked but never actually electronically boarded onto the plane and as a result, our little family held up the plane for at least half an hour before we realized that we were the passengers that they were waiting for to board. (after being called to the front due to the person behind the desk probably feeling very sorry for us as we must have looked very stressed.)  When we eventually sat in the plane the tears rolled. It felt to me that we have just said goodbye to everything and everybody that we knew and loved.  However, as soon as we took off, the two boys kept us so busy that we soon had to look upward and onward.

After a long flight and very little sleep we arrived in good old Perth very early on a Saturday morning thoroughly jet-lagged and somewhat fragile.  We were lucky to have accommodation and transport from the airport all sorted but when we got to the services apartment in West Perth, we realized that we would have to quickly find a supermarket as the stores closed at 5 pm on a Saturday and at that stage it was not open on Sundays. So off we went to go and buy food using the bus as our mode of transport. We soon discovered it was loads of fun to start afresh but also very daunting if you do not even recognize a brand of tomato sauce on the shelf of the supermarket let alone have the luxury of choosing the one you know and trust.  That all said we found our new favorites. We managed to get a little car, and another a few months later. We rented a few houses and eventually bought our own. Our children adapted well to school and the English language and we have survived it all. Needless to say, the 2 years became 3 and then 4. A temp visa became a permanent visa and the visas made way for Australian passports. We still miss our dear family but we have found ways to see all of them as frequently as we can and we have truly settled in Perth which has become our home away from home. We now even have a little Aussie born member of our own family (who by the way, had an Aussie passport before any of us managed to get one).”

 

Meet beautiful Leana Jonker.

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Click HERE to view more of Leana’s beautiful session.

Leana wrote the following:
“I am Leana Jonker.  Wife of Riaan Jonker.  Accountant.  Passionate about food, cycling, movies and my two dogs Harry and Thomas (Miniature Schnauzers).
Our Australian migration journey started in Melbourne in 2008.  Then we headed to Perth in 2010.  We adapted very easily – finding a new home, a new job and learning “Aussie English” were challenging but fun.  The two years in Melbourne were incredible – it focused our marriage (my best friend became my only friend) and it focused our faith in God.  I also met my very dear (Afrikaans) mate, Karen, in a Jeep outlet store during my lunch break.  We relocated to Perth in 2010 and the amazing weather soon led us to be very active.  We started cycling and in 2012 I completed the 120km Ride to Conquer Cancer.  I have also completed two Pink Triathlons.  My passions are food, cycling, photography and reading.
It was such a great honor to win the mini make-over from Merise Magazine.  The ladies knew exactly how to bring out our best features and we were spoilt beyond belief…what is better than champagne and chocolate brownies?!
I prefer being behind the camera and I’m not really a frilly-type girl.  BUT Natasha soon transformed me into a “frill-seeker” and made me feel comfortable from the get-go!  I really enjoyed the photo shoot and would highly recommend it.”
The 3rd lady is the stunning Ilse Roets
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Ilse wrote the following:
“I grew up and lived in Gauteng (Pretoria, South Africa) all my life.  Have never had the opportunity to travel much but we decided to immigrated to Australia and arrived, with one way tickets, 13 years ago in Perth … our new home!

Anyone being through this, will confirm the different stages that goes along with such a major decision leaving behind family, friends and most of all … part of you … for establishing a new life and future.  We arrived without employment and two teenaged kids.

First things first … a house to rent and a job! Well, to find a house itself was not that easy.  So much so that we ended up SOR although we preferred to be NOR but due to the shortage of rentals properties, we ended up SOR just to have a permanent address.  Somehow I think over the years and the amount of foreigners arriving at the rapid speed, the Australians got used to the idea that we are not here to take their jobs but we are here to their benefit too. Despite being accepted to Australia on your qualifications and experience, it was not a case to pick and choose a job … another hurdle and challenge to overcome.  In December 2001 the exchange was R6.35 to the AUS $ … and everything you need was diverted before picking it up and deciding whether it’s really necessary.  Soon I decided that maybe it’s time for another change … seeing that we are in it and I’ve decided to make a complete career change.  I enrolled for registration as a real estate agent and went to Tafe for three weeks.  Although all went well with obtaining the necessary papers … to earn money in the real estate industry had its own challenges.

Thinking back on all the hard, less hard and good times … I realize that a big part of us keeping sane and focussed, was that we joined the Afrikaans Church.  On a Sunday it was so motivating and good to mingle with “our people, speak “die taal” (our language) and meet people that have been through exactly the same as us at the same time. I’m still very thankful for this!

Four and a half years ago, I decided to start my own real estate office, Property Icon, and I’m happy to say it’s still going strong.  Although I’m still only a small business, I’m able to give personal service which all my clients appreciate by not having to deal with a new person every couple of months.”

Ilse send me a message to thank us for the day and this is what she said: ” Thanks so much for this photo session.  I had a lot of fun.  You guys are so talented in what you do and knew how to make all of us feel at ease in front of the camera.  This was such a great experience!  Thank you”

Inspiring Immigrant Woman – Meet Anke

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Today I am sharing the 2nd story in my series on Inspirational Immigrant Women – Life your Way.

Meet the gorgeous Anke Martins …

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Unlikely Immigration: I will start my story here. We didn’t plan to immigrate. We never even considered the option. It was something that ‘other people’ did. In fact, when my husband’s work asked him if we wanted to relocate for a job opportunity, we declined. We were very happy where we were and we felt we were doing what God had called us to do. But God’s ways aren’t our ways and that’s why I know for sure that we were called to be here.

Initially we were only going to stay for 2 years. The company paid for our relocation, they rented a car and accommodation for us and we got LAFA (living away from home allowance). So, as a friend stated: we had a soft landing.

As time goes by we knew we would not be returning to South Africa soon. The lifestyle is so relaxed and Perth is a perfect place to raise your kids. Mine were 7 and 5 when we came over – a good age, because they adapted quite easily. My son’s teacher told me: “Just read to them in English”. And that’s what we did. And before we knew it, they were little Aussies. They would laugh at our pronunciation of certain words and we knew that we would never loose our accent as Afrikaans speaking South Africans.

I must say that I was worried about my children’s adaption to Australia. They had to learn a new language, a new handwriting and a new culture. But I think children are the most adaptable to different situations. Of course it depends on the character of your child and their age. And not everyone is the same, but they get to mingle with other children the most part of the day. And because they learn so fast, they settle in much quicker then us. Homework did not exist until high school for my kids. And the responsibility was more on us to make sure they know their multiplication. I think we were more involved with their education, because in South Africa you expect the schools to do their work. Where as for here the standard is lower in primary school. And their education system is different.

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I can honestly say that I have never felt that I want to pack my bags and go back home. We have visited South Africa many times in the 10 years that we’ve been here, but coming back to Perth has always been coming back home.

Life is never without stress, hardship and sadness and I’ve surely had my fair share here. My father was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. I think it was the hardest thing for me to be so far away and to not know what was going on. Uncertainty drives me crazy. I would phone and my dad would say: “I’m very well, how are you”. He didn’t want to have chemo so we knew we had to prepare ourselves for his departure. But how? … In that time I constantly prayed for timing. And God’s timing was perfect. And through the 18 months of my dad’s illness, I can only witness of God’s love and His strength. He carried me through the toughest time in my life. And He still does.

As you can gather, God is important to me. I don’t know how people can live without Him or make this big move without faith. He is the only certainty and stability in this world. He is my Rock. I have learned to only trust in Him. I think this is the biggest lesson that I have learned through everything. Prov 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” He has picked me up from the floor so many times. He has showed me the way when I could not see where I was going. I can truly say that He has straightened my path and blessed me. He has sent wonderful friends on my path to encourage me, and friends to lift me up when I needed it.

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After my father died I pushed myself really hard. I had to be ok. That is what people expect (or that is what I thought) and I didn’t really grieve the loss of my father. I was teaching too many group fitness classes and trying to prove to myself that I’m ok. That led to physical burn out and emotionally I was a mess. I battled with depression and feelings of worthlessness for too long. But once again God was so gracious and faithful and loving. He picked me up and showed me His love for me. And that is why I can only trust in Him. My point is: don’t be afraid to admit when you are having a tough time.

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I think one is very vulnerable when you immigrate. You are desperate to fit into your new environment and you seek acceptance and friendship. My eyes were opened to people’s willingness to help ‘strangers’. Your acquaintances soon become friends, and friends become family. I must say the South African community here is very helpful – mostly (I think) because we’ve all been in the same situation and appreciate what others have done for us in the past.

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I am thankful for the personal growth that I have had the last couple of years. (Even though it has been very hard at times). I have stepped out in faith in more than one area of my life and they are opportunities that I might not have had or pursued in South Africa. To me Australia was a journey to my soul (sounds very deep and arty I know 🙂 )

I have proven to myself that I can be more than a wife, mother and cleaner. (Housework is always a topic of discussion amongst SA woman). You have to look and find what you enjoy. Or what you are passionate about. Otherwise you fall in the pit of being miserable. Take the time to do something nice for yourself.

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Before my father died I started writing my bucket list. That was about 4 years ago. And I’m pleased to say that I’m ticking them off one by one. Playing golf with my dad was one, and I made arrangements to fly to RSA and surprised them for their birthdays. My dad and I played 4 games together and that was the last game that he played. So I feel privileged and blessed.

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I enjoy the family life that we have here. Doing things together builds strong relationships and what better place to be snorkeling together, camping on the beach and kayaking in the sea or river. Here are so many opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy life. Grab it with both hands. Don’t let busyness OR HOUSE CLEANING stop you from living.

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I must just add that without the love and support of my best friend and husband, Herman, I will not be where I am now. He is my biggest fan and he believes in everything I do. He encourages me to do more and to be my best. I know it is really important to have a strong bond as husband and wife in the immigration proses. Immigration can be VERY stressful and if there are cracks in your relationship they will show very soon. My husband and I date regularly and have been doing so for the last 15 years. Apart from God he is the most important person in my life. His support and unconditional love means the world to me.

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The Bible says that children are a gift from God and I am so thankful for my 2 – Ruan (17) and Ine (14). They bring joy and happiness into our home and I think Australia has also given them opportunities that they might not have had in South Africa. Both my kids have competed nationally in sport and they also had music opportunities at school. In public schools music tutoring is free and that’s great! Ruan has been part of PEAC and SEAC (Primary extension and Challenge and senior) and that has developed his field of interest and was a wonderful learning opportunity. Ine is part of the worship team at our church and she loves singing, rock climbing, writing and photography. I am thankful that we can raise our kids in a more carefree environment.

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So who am I? I’m a child of the Most High, I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a friend and I’m an artist.

I’m the Alpha coordinator at Uniting Church in the City and I want to reach out to people in the city to show them the love of Jesus. God Bless – Anke

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I asked Anke to share her photo session experience with you all.  Most moms/women spend their time and money on their children or their house … we tend to put ourselves last and most of us have only had our make-up and hair done professionally for our wedding day!  I want to make women feel special through this experience … 🙂

So in Anke’s words: “I told Natasha that I would be her challenge. I am NOT photogenic and I am shy. Maybe a lack of self-confidence is a better description. Anyway, what a lovely experience it was! It was so much fun. Natasha and Deon know how to make you feel at ease and for the time ‘in the forest’ there was nothing else on my mind. I felt like a bride 🙂  It was a treat to have my make-up done professionally, something I have never done before. It was a great afternoon and I can recommend it to everyone! Any girl wants to feel beautiful, and Natasha you accomplished that.”

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Thank you to the fabulous team for making these ladies look absolutely beautiful

Make-up:  Jane Guildea from Make me Beautiful Jane

Hair:  Cornel Labuschagne from Jami Hairdressing

Click HERE to read the first story in this series by Natasha du Preez (that’s me 🙂 )

DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THIS SERIES … do you feel you have a story to share? … click HERE to see what its all about and also send an email to natashaphoto@bigpond.com and I will forward all the relevant information to you!

Much love

Natasha xxx

Michelle Lochner – Miss Galaxy AUS finalist for WA

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Click here to view more of Michelle’s gorgeous shoot

Meet the gorgeous Michelle … she is a WA state finalist for the Miss Galaxy Australia Beauty Pageant.

We are the proud sponsors of Michelle for this pageant 🙂  and we know she will do so well!  Michelle used to be a very talented Rhythmic gymnast and she also loves ballet;  so with this in mind she decided to do a shoot which would incorporate something of her love for dancing.   She is such a natural in front of the camera …  not even 30 minutes later we had some killer images of her 🙂

Keep an eye on this girl;  she also started her own fashion label called Angel of Greed.

Hair & Make-up:  Make me Beautiful Jane

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Inspiring Immigrant Women – Meet Natasha

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“Inspirational stories are tales of hope, promise and encouragement.” Bailey Richert.

Today is the first story on my series of Inspirational Immigrant woman – Life Your Way

I am Natasha du Preez, and this is MY story!

Let me introduce my family … Deon, my husband and best friend; daughter Zani our eldest and Martin our son lived in Pretoria, South Africa. We decided to take the “plunge” and move to Australia. Deon arrived in AUS in July 2010 and the rest of us arrived in Brisbane on 25 November 2010! Welcome to my journey …

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So here we are … nearly 4 years have passed since our move to Australia. It only feels like a couple of weeks ago when we first stepped off the plane and set foot in our new surrogate country, Australia. Brisbane, or Brissie as its known in AUS, would be our first hometown on our journey in to the unknown.

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Let me start at the beginning … My story started 13 years ago. Deon thought it a good idea to attend a seminar about immigrating to Canada. I remember sitting there thinking to myself that Canada and me will not gel … I’m a sunny South African girl who thrives in the sun and all I saw in the slideshow presented to us was snow, snow and more snow. I did not really give migration much of a thought after this, but I guess Deon started thinking about our future way before I was ready. A couple of years passed before he discussed his plans with me of applying for a PR Visa to Australia since his degree was on the required skills list. Again I did not really think much about it. He thought it’s a good option to have if we ever do decide to migrate … so I let him be. I have an amazingly caring husband, who knows me so well and knew that he had to give me time to adapt to the idea of migrating … this was not going to happen overnight …

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How did I decide and know it’s the right time to migrate … We are Christians and therefore strong believers; so nothing in our lives happens without praying about it. After the process of applying and receiving the thumbs up we had to make our initial entry into AUS during the year thereafter. We took the LSD Trip (Look, See and Decide) to Perth and stayed with good friends of ours. I was not ready to emigrate at that stage, so arriving back in SA, Deon and I hardly talked about migrating for the next 3 years. It was something I had put to the back of my mind and did not really want to give it any more thought. Deon knew he should let me be to digest his plans in my head on my own. He was ready to make the move … I was not.

Once we made our initial entry into AUS, we had 4 years to make the move before the visas would expire. In October 2009 Deon said we had to make a call … are we going or are we staying. Our visas were going to expire in October 2010. If we decided to stay then all will be ok and we would carry on with our lives as we know it. If we decided to go, then we would have to start planning when to put everything in action. I went to bed that night asking God to show me the way and give me a sign with what He wanted us to do … I was so confused … it’s not like we’re moving cities … we will be moving COUNTRIES … CONTINENTS! We’ll be turning our whole world and everything known and familiar to us upside down. I sat there thinking about my parents and siblings and how I will miss them. Will I even be able to cope without family nearby? That night God gave me a clear and beautiful answer … He guided me to read a verse from the Bible and this verse said that new things are on the horizon and that they are on the verge of happening and that all will be good. Goosebumps took hold of my body and I knew I had received clear direction on the path forward. He gave me an answer! I’ve never before experienced something like this. Now if you are not a believer then you might think this is so silly … how can any person act on something from someone they can’t see? For me it was a clear answer to what I was seeking guidance from God a mere couple of minutes ago … peace and calmness came over me. I knew what had to be done. 🙂

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When we made the decision to migrate, the best decision for me was to stay behind with our children until Deon secured a job … We were not fortunate to migrate with a job offer, which normally results in the company paying for all costs involved. Financially we had to pay for everything ourselves. Deon realized that he needed to be in AUS to actually be considered for a job. At this stage our house was sold so we could all fly over to AUS, BUT we decided that it would be better for him to go and secure work first. I figured he needed to concentrate on finding a job without being worried about myself and our 2 children being happy and settling in. I’ve heard horror stories of migrating families packing up and leaving for AUS without any job offers and then struggling to adapt to their new life as well as finding it hard to secure an income ASAP. This puts a huge amount of unnecessary tension on the family. Some of these stories resulted in a divorce or the family packing up and going back to their birth country losing lots of money. I did not want this for our family. If Deon could not secure a job, at least he could come back to SA and we could decide on a way forward from there. Whilst Deon was in AUS,  Zani, Martin and I moved to Cape Town to go and live with my eldest sister, Desire. My parents live close to her and my middle sister, Minette, lives in the adjacent town. My brother Ono and his family only lives 4 hours from there.  This arrangement worked out perfectly and I could really enjoy their company to the fullest and also support my sister Minette, after her husband passed away from cancer. This was a sad time for all of the family!  Deon was offered a job in August and we decided it would be better for him to settle in, research schools and universities as well as find a house before we joined him. Our son was also still in school and he already had to change schools during that year, so we wanted him to finish his school year in SA.

The worst part of immigrating was to say goodbye to my family!  It’s one of those things I did not want to think about … wished I could delete the day and wake up the next morning on the plane already on my way to AUS … all the goodbyes over and done with. I am a very, very emotional person and I cried at night thinking about THE day. How on earth would I be able to get through THAT day! I decided to listen to one of my best friends, Marize, who were in the same boat I was a couple of years ago. She gave me the best advise and said to not allow anyone to come and see us off at the airport … say your goodbyes at home and have someone else drive you to the airport so that your head is clear once you arrive there. I knew this would be especially hard for my parents. They wanted to come and see us off at the airport and so did my sister Desire and her daughter Mia, but I wanted to cry my heart out and clear my head on the way to the airport. I did not want to sob like a baby at the airport … I would and could not cope with that. It was hard … really really hard. I still get choked up when I think about those goodbyes. To hug my parents and siblings for the last time and not know if and when I will see them all again … that was hard, I will not lie.

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We’ve been apart for nearly 4 months before we joined Deon! How did I cope in the first couple of weeks in my surrogate country … Deon bought us a car.  The expensive rego (registration fee) resulted in us not so keen on buying another car. So I became the designated family “taxi” driver. But in saying that, public transport is so great that most of the times they would all make use of the train and/or bus services. We arrived the Friday night and Monday I had to drop Deon off at work. It’s the strangest feeling to not have anything familiar around you; no landmarks to help indicate that you are on the right road … where am I … am I on the right road … where do I live … and to top it all the lanes on the roads in AUS is narrower than in SA, as is the parking bays! Trucks passing our 4×4 made me nervous every time. The GPS became my closest friend and she took us to wherever we wanted to go :)! In the beginning I was petrified of taking the wrong turn off. Lady GPS says take the 2nd exit at the roundabout (circle as we know it in SA) and then I’m not even sure if I understood her correctly!

Everything in Brisbane is hot and humid and you felt drained from early in the morning after hanging just ONE bundle of washing! I learned very quickly to hang my washing before 7.30 (or earlier) during the summer times! 2 Hours later and most of my washing would be dry. Everything was so unfamiliar … shops, food, clothes, medical aid, doctors, schools. I could not understand the Aussies 🙂 … they were talking a very unfamiliar language … how you going? (how are you?) … this avo (afternoon) … the servo (service station) … Maccas (Mc Donald’s) … the rego (registration) … have a cuppa (cup of tea/coffee) … come over for tea (dinner) … cheers (thank you) … a schooner (beer) … sickie (taking a sick day off from work – even though you may be perfectly fine!!!) … jip (yes) and many more strange words! I guess they must have felt the same with my SA English 🙂

We had loads of rain shortly after we arrived, but since it was Queensland’s rainy season this was usual for Brissie. Just over a month since our arrival we were part of the 2011 Queensland floods. I remember TV hosts talking on television about suburbs, which had to evacuate, and I would have no idea if we lived in or near any of those areas. I’d call Deon and ask him if they are talking about our suburb. I did not know east from west!

Grocery shopping was a big headache in the beginning. I still think you need a license to steer the trolleys 🙂 (they are so difficult to steer since all 4 wheels turn in all 4 directions and the trolley wants to go in its own direction given a chance) What would normally take me half an hour now takes 1 – 2 hours! Products are different; labels are different … what works … what is the best product to use?! Then the price differences are huge. Pay anything from $1 to $5 for a loaf of bread, so which bread is the better option and is the expensive bread actually better? We quickly learned how to shop. Most of the supermarkets will sell their freshly baked products at a fraction of the cost at the end of the day and anything near the sell by date will also be sold at huge discounts. Although AUS is an expensive county, I also found that once you know how and when to shop you could save lots on groceries and clothing. I’ve bought some of my best bargains in AUS!

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One of my fears I had with immigrating is loneliness … I was scared of being lonely.  It’s not that I need people around me all day to make me happy, but at least I could pick up the phone in SA and speak to family and friends or arrange to catch-up over a cuppa (cup of coffee) when I felt the need for some company. I had great friends whom I’d known for a great number of years and I enjoyed their company very much. I see myself as somewhat of an introvert so I knew I would not make friends that easy. I’m not the kind of person who likes to turn up at get togethers by myself without knowing anyone there … I feel so uncomfortable! Also, I used to be very busy with wedding photography, editing and meeting clients and now I will have none of this so it could get very lonely. So yes, it took time to meet a couple of people in Brissie … a few of them became great friends of ours. We had the loveliest Aussie couple as neighbors.  Mario & Pauline is always game to go out with us and they are always there to lend a helping hand. They still are great friends of ours even though we now live in Perth!

I chose to be positive … I did have a couple of days in the beginning where I was all teary eyed and ready to sit in a corner and cry cry cry. I missed everything and everyone close to my heart;  I had no friends;  could not go shopping as everything was so darn expensive if you convert back to rand value and had nowhere I could go during the day.  I would get up, put on my tracksuit and do some washing and cleaning, watch television and wait for Deon and the kids to come home. I realized I should do something about this and had a good old chat with myself, telling me that I can choose to make the best of this or I can choose to be miserable. This is a great opportunity for us as a family to explore another part of the world. I made a decision that day to never ever feel sorry for myself again! I definitely still had off days, but I can honestly say that those were few and far between and I coped perfectly with those off days! Our daughter struggled in the beginning and did not want to be in AUS. She missed her friends and family … it was December and everyone she knew was having a fantastic holiday. In Brisbane she knew no one and had no friends and to top it all, it just kept on raining and raining so we could not explore or go to the beach. I had to be strong for her and had to show her that we as a family will get through this together. We had our first Christmas without the family so we had to start new traditions and we actually had an awesome Christmas. We had loads and loads of sharing and caring time together. Visited lots of places and did lots of things costing us next to nothing … watched television series … had Seven Eleven coffees sitting at Southbank and enjoying the view over the city. It was amazing to realize once again that small things seems to be the best things in life! Great times! 🙂

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Have I changed my outlook on life … Family have always meant the world to me, but since we live so far from them I cherish every moment spent with them. I love and enjoy every Skype call and every Facebook message and/or notification. I realize that the world is as big as you want it to be or as small as you want it to be … some of our best friends are widely spread over the world and we all keep up to date with each other through social media.  I’ve always valued photographs, and do so even more now! Family pictures are worth more than gold to me. I treasure and make the most of every photo opportunity with my family here and in SA. The impact of immigration on my life has made me stronger as a person. It made me a better and stronger Christian who believes whole-heartedly that God has a plan for us as a family and He has been our help and savior throughout the last 4 years.

Deon, myself and our kids became an even more tight nit family … we are in tune with each other and know how to brighten the very few somber days one of us might have.  We look out for each other and we see the world differently than before. My children and my husband are my bestest of best friends 🙂 I love spending time with Deon.  We love to explore together and we love being in each others company …  we have a huge appreciation for each other.

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We definitely felt it necessary to find a church … We have always been fans of Hillsong music and we knew Hillsong church was in Sydney, but we never knew there was a campus in Brisbane. The way Deon discovered that there was a Hillsong campus in Brisbane is still a mystery to us. He bought a mobile phone and the only people who had his number were our friends he stayed with in Brisbane. Nobody else had his number so it was just totally weird when he received a call from Hillsong Brisbane asking him if he would be interested in being part of their sound team. He used to help out with sound in our church in SA! He was flabbergasted … he did not attend a Hillsong service let along know that there was a Hillsong church in Brisbane and apart from that nobody else had his new mobile number. This was no coincidence! This also resulted in Martin becoming a youth band member of Hillsong … something he always dreamed of happening! Attending Hillsong has been a privilege for us as a family.

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Since our move we all do our part in the house … From day 1 my family had no problem to each do their part. Like most South Africans, we had a domestic lady who cooked and cleaned for us. She was like a 2nd mother to my children. We were spoiled but we do know how to clean, cook and iron. 🙂 Moving to AUS, we each have our cleaning chores. In the beginning we decided on a designated day during the week where each of us had to do our bit in the house. This became difficult, because lots of times we weren’t all home on that day. We then decided to each do our part on any day during the week. This works perfectly! I hate ironing! So figured that when I take the washing off the line I should iron it with my hands and fold it straight away and put it in a neat pile in the cupboard. This works like a charm 🙂 The only ironing I do is Deon’s work shirts and pants and a couple of shirts for the rest of us that needs ironing.

My relationship with my family back home has not changed one bit. Skype is my best friend and Facebook connects them to my daily life in AUS. I share loads of photos on Facebook with them; that way they are part of our daily life. Special days like birthdays, engagements and the recent birth of the first grand child and great grandchild in the family does make it hard to be so far from them. It’s times like these where I have a new found appreciation for Facebook and Skype!  We’ve had 3 of our family members come over for a visit when we lived in Brisbane.  My parents came over for for a 6 week visit;  my eldest sister Desire came over also for 6 weeks and her daughter and fiance came over for a couple of days.  I have been back to SA twice.  We went back home as a family this past December … Martin enjoyed his schoolies (matric holiday) with all his SA mates (friends) in Plettenbergbay;  we had 2 family weddings and Deon turned 50!

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Shopping for fashion In the beginning I found shopping malls not of the same standard as we had in South Africa. SA mostly has beautifully laid out malls and most shops have gorgeous window dressing … very inviting to spend your money :). In the beginning I found most shops in Brisbane plain and not interesting and especially window dressing of shops was not inviting. They definitely had beautiful clothes, but their displays were non-existing. In the last 2 years quite a few of the malls have upped their game and was upgraded which makes then much more inviting and pretty. I do find fashion much more to my taste in AUS. But in saying that I did love fashion in SA as well. What I really love in AUS is the financial year-end sales in June/July and the Christmas sales straight after Christmas. Most of the shops have great specials on most of their stock … and I found the prices so low during these times.

I really miss beautiful decoration shops like we had in SA. The varieties of interior decorating shops are behind to what we were used to in SA. Quality furniture like we have in SA is very expensive in AUS, so for that reason we brought over all our good quality furniture. We would not have been able to afford the same quality furniture in AUS.

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Our son started school in year 10. Martin was a year older than his class mates because AUS kids start school a year earlier than in SA. There was the option for him to skip year 10 and start with year 11, but since our home language is Afrikaans and our children attended Afrikaans schools in SA, we thought it better for him to stay in year 10. That way he could get used to school in English as well as school in AUS. That was the best decision! He attended a fantastic public school in Brisbane and made friends for life. He is a drummer and this school (Mansfield State High School) has a huge music department. This was right up his alley. School activities compared to SA are very different. School sport in SA is huge, but here in AUS the kids have to join sport clubs to be part of a sport team. Sport is not really part of school the way we were used to in SA. Our children both attended great schools in SA so naturally I was not sure what to expect in AUS. I’ve heard horror stories about public schools and there was no way that we could afford private schools in AUS, so we had no choice but to have him attend a public school. The education department in AUS actually rates schools on their website and this was a big help to choose a school. The only catch was to find a house in the catchment area for the school. With Mansfield State High being so popular we were told that rentals in the catchment area was not that easy to come by. Deon started looking for a rental house way before the kids and myself arrived in Brissie, so we ended up renting a house for 3 months without even living in it. We could not have found a better school for Martin. What I loved was the fact that when Aussies asked me what school my son attends, all their responses were the same when I told them …”we’ve heard great things about that school and we heard that it’s a very strict school”.

Our daughter studied at Griffith university in the Gold Coast and the whole process of applying was quite different to what we were used to in SA. She had to travel by train and bus for 1 ½ hours to attend university. University in itself is obviously the same as in SA, but we found that they do not have the amount of socials and get togethers the way universities have in SA. Zani is more of an introvert than Martin, so she took some time to meet and make friends. (Her story will follow soon). At the end she was happy with uni and her friends and she had a great time.

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Renting is way different to SA. Every time we have rental inspection it makes me feel like a naughty schoolgirl who did something wrong and now waiting for my punishment. Have been through this for the last 4 years and still can’t get used to it. Feels like my privacy is invaded … the agent walks around with a camera taking pictures of every mark and scratch. If you want to hang pictures against the wall you have to ask permission. So this resulted in us not putting up any paintings and/or photos. Great news for us is that we are building our first house in AUS. Our own little peace of land with walls painted the way we want it and pictures on every single wall! This is a family project with each and every one of our own personal “stamps” visible.

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My advise to anyone considering such a big change would firstly be that your relationship with your partner/husband/wife needs to be very strong.  One can fire up over the smallest of things and the blame game can become part of your daily life if one half of the party is not ready for such a change.  Both people in the relationship needs to be on the same page about migrating.  If one half is not happy and does not want to be in the new surrogate country then this can lead to a disaster.  You need to get your head in the right space … migrating is not for the faint hearted!

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So if I had the choice, will I do this all again Apart from all the adaptions with our new life we are happy and came out stronger and better people. I can honestly say that MIGRATING was the hardest thing in my life, but I would do it over again if I had the opportunity.  A lot of positives for our family came from this decision.

So now we are living in Perth … yet again another move for us.  Moving to Perth is seen as migrating for Australians.  Perth is so far from the rest of AUS that it seems like it could be a country on its own.  This move was definitely harder for me as I really loved everything about Brisbane and the Gold Coast … apart from the humidity!  Some of my favorite places is Brisbane city, Southbank, Eagle street pier, the Gold Coast beaches and I’m a huge fan of Noosa!  Perth is slowly but surely growing on me. We love the gorgeous blue ocean.  It’s somewhat of a different lifestyle to what we had in Brissie … very relaxed and laid back!  We love the beautiful sunsets as well as the gorgeous beaches.  We are looking forward to going snorkeling; surf some sand dunes;  camp on those sand dunes and lay around on the beaches soaking up the sunshine.

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I am a proud South African who will always love my country of birth, and will always have a special place for it in my heart. I will always miss the smell of “die bosveld” and “fynbos”, the African ocean, the beauty of the African landscape and the different ways Afrikaans is spoken. I will always be a Springbok fan and cannot see myself ever cheering for the Wallabies (sorry my Aussie friends) especially if the Wallabies are playing against the Springboks. I will always and with pride wear my Springbok supporter t-shirt! Even though I left SA, it has never left me. I have a couple of decades of African soul & blood in my roots … only difference being that I am an African child now residing in a surrogate mother country by the name of Australia. I will always be grateful to AUS and the Aussie people I’ve met who welcomed us with open arms. This land Down Under has loads of similarities to my beautiful African land.  I feel welcome!

 I am happy and at peace. I am a wife, mother and a proud Immigrant woman!

Thank you to the following 2 ladies for beautiful make-up and hair!

Jane Guildea from “Make me Beautiful Jane”

Cornel Labuschagne from Jami Hairdressing

Life Your Way – Inspiring stories of Immigrant women

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I want to share my journey … that is my Immigration Journey.

Since our move to Australia nearly 4 years ago I’ve received numerous Facebook messages from other people, especially women, who are curious to know how our whole immigration process came to life … how did we know it was the right time to make the move … what was the process like for me as a mother and wife … how do I experience life in another country … how do I handle missing my family … and many more similar questions.

I feel I have a story to share.

Maybe my story can help another person with his/her decision making, because lets be honest … MIGRATING is not for the faint hearted.  It did not happen without many tears.  It was not an easy decision … dare I say it was the most difficult decision in my life.

I’ve played around with the idea to share my story with others in my head for the last couple of years.  I honestly think there is a need for other people who might be in the same boat as many other immigrants to read about their immigration experience.  The experience of immigration is so different for each person … and that is just it … I’ve seen a lot of questions being asked on Facebook pages about this and I realized that there is no better time than NOW to share these stories with other people.  The thing with asking a question on Facebook is you will receive a wide variety of answers on that one question and that can make you even more unsure and scared.  So my idea of 3 years ago actually came to life in the last couple of months since we moved from Brisbane to Perth when more and more of those questions popped up on the Facebook groups.

I KNEW WHAT I WANTED AND HAVE TO DO … share lots and lots of stories of different women. 🙂

I’ve decided to choose 2 ladies every month for at least the next year to share their stories right here on my BLOG.  This way people can read about each lady’s experience and the way she handled the process.   The gorgeous Merise magazine wanted to come on board with this idea of mine. Suzette, editor of Merise, will choose stories from my blog to share in print with their readers …  isn’t that amazing!

So if you feel you have a story to share and want to be part of my Inspirational Immigrant Women Series, then please send me an email.  I will send you the PDF with all relevant information in regards to what I’m looking for.  There is no cut off date at this stage, so please take the time to read through the PDF and then write your story according to the pointers I’ve given you on the PDF.  There are many women out there who would love to read your story!

The chosen stories will each be treated to a gorgeous Personal PHOTO SESSION done by me and my husband.  You will receive 5 images on disk as a gift to you from me to say thank you for your time and your willingness of sharing with others.

My story will be the first feature in this series and it will be ready for sharing with the world next week, so keep an eye on my blog to read about my journey!

I hope that all the stories I will be sharing on my blog will inspire at least one person out there.  If I can accomplish this then I will be truly happy. 🙂

Until next week … MUCH LOVE

Natasha xxx

natashaphoto@bigpond.com

PS:  All photo sessions will take place in Perth, but any lady who is willing to share her story is eligible to participate.  The only problem would be that you would have to fly down on your own cost … but if you are coming to Perth for a visit then we can try (as far as possible) to fit you into our schedules for the photo session.

Inspirational Immigrant Women – meet Laura

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This will be my 2nd last story that I’m sharing in my series on Inspirational Immigrant Women – Life your Way.

Laura was one of the first ladies who send through her story.  She flew over from Melbourne for her photo session and also decided to bring her daughter along for a mini holiday in Perth.  She is such a kind and soft person with a warm and inviting smile.  Thank you Laura for taking the time to come and share your story with everyone.  You are a strong person!

New Beginnings – Immigration to Oz

“OMG”, what am I doing? A silver tear trickle down my cheek and drip on the collar of my shirt. A tiny hand in mine, holding on very tight as the plane’s engines build up momentum and tackle the runway then my ten year old asks “are you ok ma?”

The moment is gone. Lift off. The plane makes a wide circle over the goldfields of Johannesburg as if bidding goodbye to South Africa before heading off to the unknown, to a new future, a new country, a new beginning.

26 hours flying, 9 hours into the future, we miss 9 hours in space. 9 hours we never lived, 9 hours of non-existence. Sleep eludes me as time glides by while the big silver bird carry the load, 80kg worldly possessions, me and my three children. The lights flicker on and we are descending to land at Melbourne International airport. Touch down just after midnight on 13 February 2003. We have arrived. The new country embraces us when the doors at customs open and we walk out onto unfamiliar territory.

I guess we were kind of a funny looking bundle, me with the red shirt (so that the strangers that are coming to meet us can recognise me). My eldest, 17 years old, with a wooden clock (fumigated and certificate in the hand – no pests), safely clutched in her hands, her only keepsake from the world we have left behind, my son, 16 years old, angry and in a very bad mood due to lack of sleep and no cigarette for the past 26 hours, trying to negotiate the bulky luggage, and then my youngest, 10 years old with all these stuffed 101 Dalmatian puppies obtained during the flight. Each a blanket draped over our shoulders as we do not even know how the house will look that we will be staying in.

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We turn right outside the doors. Panic! Nobody insight! Somebody calls my name in pure Afrikaans, and we swing around. We were supposed to have turned left outside the doors. We meet-and-greet the total strangers and then we are bundled into the two waiting cars and taken a short 10 minute drive down the road to the motel for a very welcome bath, bed and sleep!

The wake-up call came at 11am. I am so surprised that I did manage to fall asleep. Now refreshed and ready for the next leg of our journey. We are going HOME, to a dot on a map, a name without any meaning – Casterton.

It is the day before Valentine’s Day and a bright red love-heart lollypop becomes a keepsake that will melt in the heat that is still to come so unexpectedly, but this I do not know yet. A $5.00 shopping spree for each of the children raises an eyebrow from my new boss. Little yells of excitement, squeals and shining eyes, wide smiles while I am trying to concentrate on the voice over the phone as we are connecting a phone, signing up to Medicare and I struggle to pronounce my new address as the words lay thick in my mouth.

4 Hours later and we stop on top of a little hill, just before 6pm, safely nestled between the hills is our new home. We have arrived and Casterton open its arms for us, the new nurse and her three children. At the front door is a basket with a bunch of lavender, a note book and pens, shoe polish, a few Aussie treats and a “welcome home” card from someone who knew we were arriving today.

Rebirth if you want to call it that as everything is new, so strange yet so familiar. The money, the words and the lifestyle, places, sights and sounds, a total new learning curve.

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So how did this all start you may ask. And my story is a tale to be told. No human could orchestrate the roll of events the way they did play out.

It started with a divorce then the sudden death of my mother. Originally we are heading to America for two years but then as I was approaching my entry exam September 11 happened and all recruitment were cancelled. My children were devastated, maybe more annoyed as they have already told all the school friends we were going away. A small inheritance and a drive-by impulsive turn-off to a free seminar late one night after my shift had me signing the contract, paid the deposit and I wake my children up with the next words: “we are still going away” “where too?” ”To Australia” “where is that?” and my answer honest and true, “I do not know, but I have a map and a DVD of the Great Ocean Road”. And so it all began.

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We had time. Slowly we started to change our lives. We moved into the one bedroom unit that belonged to my mother and rented the big house out. Liesbet, our housekeeper, was only to clean the unit once a week, we were to do our own washing, cleaning and cooking. No lies here, it was very testing at times. In July 2002 my children had a garage sale, and what we did not sell I gave to the church, left some things under the tree outside. Heart wrenching decisions, had to put my half blind and deaf doggy-friend of 13 years to sleep. I resigned and we packed the Ventertjie with what we still could not say goodbye too. We drove the 9 hours to Durban. I had holiday accommodation booked for one week, one month’s pay in my pocket and that is it. Within 3 days I had a job, the girls were enrolled in school (my son chose to rather work at the local SPUR as a waiter), and I found long term accommodation in Amansimtoti. When I look back, that was maybe something I did unconsciously to test myself more than anything else. If I could do it in my own country I sure as hell can do it somewhere else! Why Durban? Well they do speak English more so than in Mpumalanga.

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By now the passports were in place, the medicals were done and all the paperwork sent off. Or so I thought. Suddenly I had to sit the IELTS test. Amazingly they had a cancellation in Durban, so I did not even had to go back to Johannesburg for that. The only day I bought a newspaper an advertisement, 5cm by 3cm big, caught my eye. A migration agent in Melbourne is advertising for a registered nurse to work in a small country town in aged care. That is exactly what I have been looking for! I could hardly send an email independently, so my older daughter had to help me but we sent my CV over. Within 24 hours I received a phone call in the middle of the night. Pure Afrikaans. Paul rang to offer me a job, and surprisingly, he used to live in Durban. A few days later I had a formal interview in the early hours of the morning and I always joke and say I had my pyjamas on during my interview. It was done. The moment I could proof I had a two year work contract on the table my visa was approved.

Once again we packed our little Ventertjie and took the road back to Secunda. Final preparations were done from my friend’s house. We packed and re-packed and it was so hard to know what to take. I thought to have a towel, sheet, pillowcase and a blanket each. For some very bizarre reason I packed my ice crusher in the “to keep box”! Photo albums were reduced to only 4 – one for each of us. Our whole life in 4 albums. That is the saddest part I think, as I did not know that with time my financial position would be better and I would be able to get things over so I actually destroyed many memories. But you do what you think is best at that moment.

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Final goodbyes, the children’s father came to say goodbye (we are divorced), my dad gave me a R4000.00 (that ended up paying for the excess weight). I had the passports and traveller’s cheque’s strapped to my waist. The children huddled close to me. I was so scared and so nervous but did not dare show it. The biggest comfort I had was the fact that I knew I had a job for the first two years. Nothing else mattered. I had my children and we were together.

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My first shopping experience in Casterton took most of the morning as I had to look twice at everything, one shelve at a time. The packaging is different. I could not even figure out what coffee to buy, what dishwashing liquid and ended up asking a stranger what she would recommend. But I had this trolley full of groceries and could not believe how far my few dollars stretched. Everything felt so cheap. At that stage you had R5.00 for every $1.00. Some products were strange and new. The ladies at the shops were very helpful and I am sure they had a little chuckle as I could not pronounce some words and kept on referring to “what is that or how do you say that, how do you cook that?”

The first three months were the hardest as every word that was said or heard had to be translated and processed. Trying to find my own feet at work, my children were left to fend for themselves. I was very concerned about my son, how he would adjust. The girls I knew would be fine. And one precious night when I got home after my shift and my son came to meet me at the car, he put his arm around my shoulders and said: “mom did you see how bright are the stars?” and that night I knew we are all going to be alright! And we were/are.

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It did not mean that everything went smooth. Our first invitation for “tea” turned out very different as I made the children eat something before setting off to my new boss, arriving there the table was laden with food, my poor children. Under my breath I whispered to them “just shut up and eat!”. We did not know that “tea” means dinner. Just like any family we had our moments, even having to attend a police child protection service as my youngest could not tell her teacher where I was. So they reported me for abandoning my children. The fact was that I was attending a conference in Warrnambool, not an easy word for a young child to get her tongue around. And the time my son was asked by the police where he comes from, while walking late at night in the street. He very smoothly answered “from South Africa”, but I doubt that was what the police meant when they asked the question.

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My first Christmas in Australia was at a stranger’s house, we called it an orphanage Christmas as everybody that had nobody brought a plate to share. Just as we settled in nicely and we were all sure of our place on earth life threw us another curve ball. My youngest (then 13years old) became very unwell shortly after becoming citizens in August 2005. She was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia) and we once again just packed-up and move, closer to Melbourne and the Royal Children’s Hospital. We chose to live in Geelong. But even in that regards we were looked after as we had access to the best medical services and safe blood. Am I grateful to be living in Australia? A very big YES!

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Now in our 13th year in Australia my eldest has degrees for Editing and publishing as well as Library Sciences.

My son is a diesel mechanic, married and the proud daddy of my two beautiful grandsons.

My youngest is a qualified swim teacher and living life.

Me myself, I have been working for the ARCBS (Australian Red Cross Blood Services) since 2007 and love my life.

 

Laura Luus

 

Other stories in this series:

Sonya

Anke

Natasha

Desiree