RaPAL

Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Mariana Caruso

Mariana Caruso, Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre

To be resilient

My husband and I arrived in Australia in June 1958. The first few years my life wasn’t too easy, because I was an immigrant from Italy and I didn’t have the opportunity to study English before I left. When I arrived in Australia I was only seventeen years old. The first negative impact was the barrier of language. The first three years we lived on the farm. I had not a chance to learn the language because there wasn’t an English class for adult immigrants. Luckily my husband spoke enough English to attend to what we needed.

The first problem began when I was pregnant, to talk to my doctor, and in hospital when the baby was born. When my little girl was eight months we had to come to Melbourne because the produce we had grown had not been sold. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t know the language. I had the little girl to look after. I got a job through a friend. I have learned to use sewing machines. It was not easy for me.

When I was pregnant with the second child, it was very difficult. I had a bad pregnancy. I could not work. We had bought a house, and we had to pay the mortgage. I bought a sewing machine. I started to work at home for a company producing garments for women. I did that for twenty-five years. The work wasn’t paid well. I worked long hours with little profit. It has been a very stressful period, taking care of the little one, bringing and taking the oldest from school. Ten years later I had another child. This time was easier.

When my husband died, my two oldest two daughters were married and the youngest still went to university, so I needed to work to support her. For me, it was the worst time of my life. I didn’t drive cars, so the first thing I had to do was learn to drive. For me, it wasn’t easy at the age of fifty-eight years. Because I needed it, I had to become stronger and force myself to achieve that. Four years later, I woke up with the intention to help myself to change my attitude. First, I needed to learn to drive; so I took my learning permit, and started driving lessons. I had to do five driving tests before I had my driving licence. I was very proud of myself for having the courage and strength to reach this goal.

After this success, my life took a different turn. I could go to see my daughters, pass time and spoil my grandchildren, visit my friends, and attend to all the things I needed. After my youngest daughter married, I stopped working. I was very tired. I needed to have some rest. Now, I have more time for myself. I’m going to English classes, as well computer classes, at my age of seventy-five years old. Never is it too late to learn.

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