Rosina Principe

My name is Rosina and I am Italian. I arrived in Australia on October 10 1963 with two daughters aged 4 and 2. When I arrived in Australia I only had my suitcases with personal effects. I had to pay for the trip, I didn’t have a home and couldn’t speak English. My husband had been here 16 months. He found work in a factory where they made car parts. I rented a kitchen and two bedrooms with another family. We had to use the same bathroom and the same refrigerator. The owner of the house had two children, a boy and a girl. After a little while the children didn’t get along any more. The owner’s children treated my children badly and said that they couldn’t play nor scream, but had to keep quiet. My husband and I were hurt by this. So we rented our own home. The rent was 5 pounds and my husband’s pay was 15 pounds. So I met an Italian woman and asked her if she knew somewhere where I could find a job. This woman was kind and she took me to a factory where they made sweets and they were almost all Italians, even the owner was Italian. I worked there 15 years and bought myself an old house. After 6 years we had another daughter, we bought a new home and my husband bought a car. Life began to improve. I had all the comforts and stayed home to raise our daughters. The two older ones were good at school.

The first one is now a teacher in a Catholic secondary school and the second has a degree but is still studying. She’s already 42 years old and is studying philosophy. The third one didn’t want to study but works where she can, she married in 1998 but her marriage didn’t go well. The eldest has been married for 20 years and has a 10 year old child. The second one doesn’t want to marry as she likes her independence and enjoys studying. My husband died in 1996. I’m now 71, am well and live with my third daughter who is divorced and works in a grocery store. I enjoy being part of the Noi Donne group, I go to school to learn English, and do the housework and the gardening.

(November 2003)