Mujgan arrived in Australia from Turkey when she was 11 years old, and her first helping role was to support her mother, who couldn’t speak any English. I was like her mother and she was like my daughter.

When her mother got older they slipped back into those roles from childhood. Her mum was a member of the Kingston Senior Citizens Club and asked Mujgan if she would come along and help out. So she did.

After her mother passed away last year, Mujgan joined the group, becoming the club’s president, and says they are now like family. They call me “daughter” and I call them “auntie” and “uncle”, she says.

The group gets together every Thursday, enjoying Turkish food, indoor activities and bus trips. They have guest speakers who provide helpful information on topics like health issues for older people, and Mujgan translates the important points into Turkish.

Mujgan picks up those who can’t drive to make sure they continue to participate. Someone needs to be there to help them out.

It’s important to give people your time to listen so they can talk about their lives and their traditions. Brushing them off is the same as ignoring them. One day all of us will ask for some help, she says, So I won’t let them down. If they’re happy, I’m happy too.

Mujgan also works for Central Bayside Community Health Services, driving older people to weekly activities, and speaks regularly at a cancer support group. Mujgan went through breast cancer 16 years ago and she believes it is important to offer support and counselling to people experiencing illness.

Her motto is to give love and take love back.

These stories celebrate the contributions and diversity of people who are part of the Victorian Seniors Festival.