Cuc Thi Lam PSM, JP Part11
|First name||Cuc Thi|
|Last name||Lam PSM, JP Part11|
|Country of Origin||Vietnam|
|Date of Birth||20/04/52|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1978|
|Submitted by||Cuc Thi Lam PSM, JP|
In Kuala Lumpur I decided that I couldn’t set foot onto new soil, into a new country empty-handed. Minh and I had literally nothing save the clothes on our back. Walking around the refugee camp I remember having seen a shiny red suitcase at one of the market stalls. I decided I wanted it, so we could look as if we possessed something. So I traded my wedding ring. With the money I had left over, I bought some material to make shirts so Minh and I would look presentable when we arrived in our new homeland.
When we set foot in Australia I remembered the amazing feeling. I describe it as being like a bird set free after living its life in a cage. A government bus transported us to the Midway Hostel in Maribyrnong where we were to spend the next 6 months of our lives settling in.
The first few months were a struggle, to say the least. The Western food was difficult to digest and frequently caused indigestion and a lack of appetite. I had no clue as to the services available around the hostel, save the bus that picked up at the hostel and stopped off at the supermarket. Before I had arrived, I had looked at books and
magazines and day dreamed and imagined what Australia would be like and how we would fit in. Australia proved to be a huge culture shock.
Minh and I decided to return to study. We both believed strongly that education would be the only way to offer our children the best future and allow us to conquer our environment. Minh decided to study to be a Doctor of Chiropractic, and I went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. At the same time, we both had to work to support ourselves and our future children. Minh found a job at St Vincents Hospital as a clerk and I worked as a Teacher’s aid. We both took English classes to conquer the language barrier, but our study and work environment forced us to pick up the English language quickly.
I gave birth to my first born son, Phillip in 1979. Our f,rrst year of arrival. Two more children were to follow, my daughter Carolyn in 1980, and finally my youngest Andrew in 1988. I remember waiting to catch the bus to the hospital to give birth to my daughter as we had no car, and were unaware of any other services and alternatives to travel. It was during these younger years that I would work three different jobs to keep the family alive while studying in my spare time and at night. Our first accommodation was a flat on the 3rd floor in Kensington Housing
Commission. The rooms were tiny and we all had to share the same room and bed. I recall, while catching the lift with my husband, a middle aged man and woman stared at us as we entered. The man glared at us and said “Go back home”, then spat on us. This happened often in the first few years. However, it was during these years that we
also made the most wonderful and loyal friends amongst the Australians that helped us settle in. We remain close friends with them still. We raised our children to play with their children and spent many family functions together.
In order to give back and contribute to a country and society that has accepted myself and my family I have dedicated myself to helping others in similar situations. In 2002, I received the Public Service medal and in 2007 was on the Victorian Honour Roll Of Women. I worked as a councillor of Maribyrnong from 2000 to 2003. I am proud of these achievements and that of my family. My husband is now a qualified and practising Chiropractor. My daughter, Carolyn is a registered pharmacist, while Andrew is studying Pharmacy. My eldest, Philip works in a comfortable government job and is happily married.
I know I am very lucky to be here. I believe that God let me live so that I could make a difference in the lives of others. I want my children to do the same, to give back as thanks and gratitude for all this country has given us, especially our freedom.