Community isolation

Community isolation

By Meg Hill

Teja Sri Kaja decided to move to Docklands two years ago to be submerged into a new community.

Moving from India to live with her husband who works at NAB in Docklands, the couple originally planned to live “in the suburbs” where their friends lived.

“But we thought maybe in the city I would meet people. I’m not the best at speaking English and I have to develop my communication skills, so he thought maybe this place is the best,” Teja told Docklands News at the end of February.

She said that it was the right decision. She made friends, participated in community groups at the Red Cross and the Library at the Dock, and volunteered at Docklands’ pop-up Neighbourhood House.

“I’ve met so many people and made so many friends. I like the people here because in India if I don’t know someone I don’t talk to them, but here everyone says good morning, hello, how are you,” Teja said.

“In India I worked as a pharmaceutical analyst. I’m looking for a job here but first I need to improve my English and communication skills.”

“That why I go to the Red Cross and Neighbourhood House and some other meet up groups.”

“I meet people from different cultures and learn about them and about diversity. There are 15 to 20 other volunteers at the Neighbourhood House and we all are friends.”

We caught up with Teja at the end of March. She was self-isolating in her apartment with her husband and had stopped engaging in most of the activities that helped her grow into a new community and develop her English.

“I’m stuck inside at my home. This week I couldn’t go to the Neighbourhood House but I think self-isolation is best at the moment. My husband is working from home too,” she said.

“I’m reading books and watching television, sometimes we play games like Monopoly.”

“We have friends here but we have to stop meeting. I used to go to the library and work on my English but now I’m just using English and grammar books I have in my home.”

The couple also had to cancel their trip home, planned for May. It would have been Teja’s first visit to India since moving to Australia.

“I’m calling my friends though and keeping in touch. I’ve been calling my family in India too, they have the same problems there. I’m calling my mother and father and making sure they’re safe,” she said •

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