Living the Aussie dream

Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre volunteer Helen Arrow.
Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre volunteer Helen Arrow.

The 66-year-old Burmese woman moved to Australia in 1972 with her family and said she still couldn’t believe she now called Western Australia home.

With her late father being from England, Mrs Arrow said as a child she used to go to the English movies in Burma and wish she could live in the places depicted in the films one day, but thought it would never come true.

‘I would watch the movies and think ‘I wish I could be there’,’ she said.

‘I wanted to live a good life.

‘I couldn’t do anything in Burma ” we were poor and couldn’t afford much.

‘We lived in a village in a bamboo hut that was very small.’

That all changed when Mrs Arrow left Burma for Australia with her husband and two young daughters to help tend to her sick father-in-law all those years ago.

After living with her in-laws for a while, Mrs Arrow said her and her family moved into a home of their own where they had ‘so much space’.

‘Sometimes I think, ‘oh my God is that really all my clothes’?’ she said.

‘I have one room just as my wardrobe.’

Mrs Arrow said the difference between living in Australia and Burma was the freedom.

‘There’s so much we can do here,’ she said.

‘Any chance to learn or get involved in the community, I take it.

‘When I first came here I slowly learnt more English.

‘I learnt to drive with the help of a translator.

‘I got involved with Ishar and took part in their programs before volunteering and working to help other multicultural women.

‘Now I have been a part of Ishar for more than 10 years. I help the ladies with sewing and exercise.

‘I love Ishar, it’s my second home.’

Mrs Arrow said despite making a ‘better life’ for herself here, Burma would always remain in her heart.

‘I’ve been back to Burma but I’m always happy to come home to Australia,’ she said.

‘Australia is my home now.’