Today is a big anniversary for me & my family!
*mum, dad and sister on my wedding day 2012
Today, January 14th 2015, is 20 years since we touched down in Melbourne Australia.
As I write this I can vividly recall two specific moments.
The first, our departure in the early hours of Friday 13th 1995 from Malfatti Gasse in the 12th District of Vienna. It was dark, cold and the air smelled of snow. I sat in the back seat of the car next to my sister excited about the adventure we were about to embark on. I was completely oblivious to the reality that I’m leaving FOR EVER to live in Australia. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a moment to once again step in the snow, feel it break under my boots. I wish I had taken a deep breath and memorised the smell of a winter January morning.
*A few months after dad got out of Sarajevo while it was still under siege dueing the war
*Summer of '94, our last summer in Vienna Sanja & me and below my mums sister and our cousins
The second moment, was walking out of the airport building and into the hot and humid Melbourne night. The smell of sea and summer in the air. I recall once again sitting in the back seat of the car with my sister, our eyes wide open preoccupied with scanning everything in site all the way home, and not once thinking of the fact that we are now over 15,000km away from everything and every one we know. We stayed the first few weeks with family friends so for me it felt like a carefree and fun holiday.
*second week in Melbourne in front of what is now the Westin Hotel on Swanston St
It’s only now, that I’m a mum, that I really understand the sacrifice my parents made for us.
They packed up all they had and embarked on a journey to the other side of the world in the hope that their children would lead a better life. Away from war & prejudice.
It must not have been easy to move away and start from scratch for the 2nd time!
I doubt that at the same moment in time on January 13th 1995, my parents saw our departure from Malfatti Gasse the same way as me…a fun adventure.
I wonder what my mother was thinking about as she went to sleep on January 12th 1995. Was she excited, scarred, stressed, sad to be leaving her only sister behind in Vienna and parents back in Bosnia?
And my dad, would he have changed his mind had someone told him that leaving on that January 13th 1995 day, he would never see his parents again?
No words can describe how thankful & grateful I am for the sacrifice they made so that my sister and I can live the life we do.
No words will ever be able to express my thanks, that despite the hardship they faced having to leave Yugoslavia, fight for survival as an ‘Ausländer’ in Vienna, making ends meet in a very difficult situation my sister and I never felt like we went without.
Despite it all you will hear my parents say that the best thing they did was come to Australia.
So here is to 20 years in the land of opportunity!!
*My parents signed the contract for to built this house in February 1998, only 3 years after we moved here
Where every one smiles and says “G’day” even if it’s just a stranger walking past you on the street. Where you are given the opportunity to make life as you wish no matter your religion or your background.
*My family and my 1st genaration Australian
I was born on 24 August 1981 in Sarajevo Yugoslavia, as Vanja Kulic a proud Pioneer.
Today I’m Vanja Joannidis a proud Australian.