Day 21 – Van

“I love Australia, it is my home.

Becoming an Australian citizen all those years ago was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

I came to Australia as a refugee after the Vietnam War. I’m 75 years old now.

I was diagnosed with HIV around 15 years ago. My beloved sister, who was my only family in Australia, refused to have any more contact with me when she found out about the HIV.  I live alone, and in the last 5 years my health has got worse. I have lost a lot of my sight, developed diabetes and my balance is very bad, so I need to walk slowly and carefully with two sticks. I was so scared that I was going to have to live the rest of my life in a home, I am not ready for that.

I had a fall one night at home and broke my arm and ended up in hospital. It was lucky that the night I had the fall, my nephew, Peter, who is in Australia studying, was staying with me, and he was able to call an ambulance to take me to hospital.

Peter is more like a son to me, and we are very close. He has been studying in Australia for the last two years. When Peter finished his studies, HALC helped us with applying for a carer visa so that Peter could stay in Australia and take care of me.  I need help with getting dressed and undressed and I feel comfortable with Peter helping me, as he is family. I would feel really bad if I had to rely on strangers to help me with such personal things, and my doctor said that it would be hard to get someone who could help.

Not only is Peter very good company, he is also a great cook and we eat well together. Peter and I go for short walks together and I am far more confident about going out. My memory has been getting worse, but Peter always makes sure I take my medications on time and attend my medical appointments.

If my doctor hadn’t sent me to see a solicitor at HALC, I don’t know what I would have done. Having Peter here has changed my life. I am going out more, I even get to see some of my friends again, because Peter helps me walk to the local café. I am looking forward to seeing Peter continue to contribute to Australia, the country that he now also calls home.

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[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]

Photo: Sydney Harbour Bridge ID: 196960 © Nicholas Rjabow | Dreamstime Stock Photos