'If you fall down, be strong, get up and start again. Life is beautiful.'
Giovanna’s journey as a migrant is testament to the resilience of the human spirit. She has often faced adversity but has consistently beaten the odds to carve out a new life for herself here in Australia. Like many Italian migrants Giovanna emigrated from the very poor region of Calabria.
‘There were no jobs,’ says Giovanna. ‘I had my baby on one shoulder. With my other hand I’d knock on doors, looking for work.’
When Giovanna arrived in Australia in 1971 with her husband and nine-month-old, a new life began for her. ‘The second day after I came to Australia, I went to work.’
Giovanna spent thirty years on the factory floor. She had a beautiful voice and her fellow workers would call out ‘Sing Giovanna sing.’ So she often sang on the factory floor whilst working. Many of the workers were Italian migrants so it became difficult to learn English. Giovanna remembers feelings of frustration and isolation at not being able to easily communicate in Australia. She hurt her knee, and was eventually sacked.
Giovanna had two children and was a single parent. She desperately needed to find work. A friend Giovanna had not seen for ten years came to visit. She worked in aged-care and suggested Giovanna apply for aged-care work.
Giovanna, also known to many of her friends as Vittoria, was employed as an aged-care worker at CO.AS.IT. Here, Giovanna’s nature could shine.
‘I was so happy in this job. My heart opened and I could give back to these beautiful people. I had finally found my mission.’
Now retired, Giovanna continues as a volunteer in the CO.AS.IT. Visitation program. She understands what it’s like to be alone and not speak English well. Many older migrants are isolated. ‘I have a big heart. I want to share it with people. I love to bring this big smile.’
Warm, generous and compassionate, Giovanna is known as an angel.