On a sunny day in October we were fortunate enough to step into the life and home of the vivacious 73 year old Louisa, a client of The Benevolent Society’s Ageing Services. We share her story which is one of change, courage and resilience.   

Growing up in Kolkata

Louisa was born in Kolkata, India in 1947. She was one of five daughters, and grew up with her family of seven in a one bedroom flat.

Growing up in 1950’s Kolkata required Louisa and her sisters were to learn English due to the British influence that remained in the region. “Even though India became independent in August of 1947 English was still the main language until 1963” Louisa recalled.

More than just a ‘summer holiday’

In 1964 Louisa and her family emigrated to Sydney, Australia. She couldn’t comprehend the move..

“There was a movie with Cliff Richard called Summer Holiday. And when we were leaving India I thought we were going on a summer holiday!” said an enthusiastic Louisa.

As they made their way over to North Bondi in a taxi, a 16 year old Louisa recalls the shock of seeing so few people on the streets. Her first impression of Sydney was “Where have all the people gone?” In 1964 the total population of Australia was close to 11.7 million while the population of the city of Kolkata alone was around 6.4 million.

In her early 20s, Louisa began her first job with the Health Department in a clerical role, before taking on a new career as a taxi driver because she wanted to be out in the city, meeting more people.  At 32 years of age she met and married her husband and they had 2 beautiful children.

Louisa and Chela smiling at a cafe

Louisa and Chela

The hard times before finding support

After her children grew up and moved out of their family home, Louisa and her husband moved down to the South Coast. A few years later they returned to Sydney where she continued to fight a long and frustrating battle with mental illness, which at times left her unable to get out of bed in the morning. She was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes, and unfortunately incorrect diagnoses and treatments damaged her memory. It was a tremendously difficult time for Louisa.

When she was discharged from hospital, she was introduced to the Manager of The Benevolent Society’s at the Mirrabooka VillageQuickly after this meeting she was told that there was an apartment available for her.“The word ‘benevolent’ is something that this society should pride itself of being the way that they help people.” Louisa said.

The word ‘benevolent’ is something that this society should pride itself of being the way that they help people.

The Benevolent Society also assisted Louisa with her application to My Aged Care to receive a Home Care Package. Today, she receives domestic assistance in her home and assistance with shopping and transport to social events during the week.

These days you’ll find Louisa out and about with a spring in her step, living each day with no regrets, an infectious smile and enthusiasm for life. “I tell myself each day I’m looking good and I’m feeling good and I’m definitely the best person that I can possibly be.” says a happy Louisa.

You can find out more about the Ageing Services that we offer here.