I’m Galyna. I was born in Russia and lived in that country during my childhood and youth. They were terrible years, two world wars and years of destruction, hunger and poverty. When I finished high school, my mum was very ill. I finished a short course to be a nurse, and started work at a hospital. My mum died when I was 19 years old.
I took a contract to work with… a company ‘Arctic Coal’, and worked at Norway’s island Spitsbergen for two years. Russia had coal mines there. Arctic is the eternal frozen. Only lichen grows there. Therefore I changed my job. I entered an institute and studied fruit growing.
At that time the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a big country. I started work at one of the Republics, Ukraine. It was a big country, which restored the economic dislocation after the war. I was invited to work at the agricultural college as a teacher. It was not far from the town of Donetsk. My family lived there more than 40 years. I had 2 children. I liked work with the youth.
All was OK, but suddenly all changed. USSR broke up. Each republic separated. Ukraine became independent and a crisis took over. The budget sector hit workers and pensioners very hard, because it did not pay salaries and benefits for a long time.
So without permission from Ukraine, we departed for Australia. My daughter’s family made their choice and departed for Australia in 1994. My son’s family and I left for Australia in 2009. Now we follow from Australia the news of terrible events in Ukraine.
Australia is the third country where I have lived for a long time. They were different times and different conditions. But I am happy and thank God that I live here, in the wonderful country of Australia. I admire a country which takes care of very aged people. I think no end of Australian people, with their open hearts and kind smiles to help me with complicated situations! I have four grandsons. They are happy in Australia too.
Editor: Marion Gledhill
Photographer: Joe Yu