It is very difficult to imagine how hard it must be to settle in a new country at 18 years of age, without being able to speak the language. Brave Vakkina experienced just that when she left Greece to come to Australia to find a better life for herself.
From the moment she stepped off the boat, she experienced the sweltering heat of a Fremantle day, only to settle in with her brother and his wife. She was immediately a target for all young Greek men, living in Australia, looking for a young, strong and healthy young Greek woman.
Mind you, from reading about Vakkina?s earlier years as a child, Australia must have seemed liked paradise compared to the hard times she experienced. Her mother was a strict disciplinarian and after her father died, her two older brothers took on that role. She was accustomed to receiving heavy blows as punishment for some wrongdoing from them, but I think this made her even more determined to find a new life.
A talented and gift artist, Vakkina longed for a chance to paint. In her younger days though, this was not seen as a ?seemly? thing for a young girl to do, especially by her older brothers.
Instead, her mother taught her to sew and she began an apprenticeship in a sewing factory in Greece. She showed talent and skill, but always dreamed about painting for a living.
When the opportunity rose for her to travel to Australia, she was beset by misery at leaving her beloved mother and almost changed her mind. However, the lure of a new life kept her going during the long sea voyage to her new land.
This is a heartfelt and unadorned story from a woman who has shown immense strength and fortitude during her life. Some chapters are simple stories of memories from her childhood, while others go in to detail as some of her memories threaten to overwhelm her.
Vakkina is one of life?s battlers and it is refreshing, but sad, to read some of her stark and simple stories which I believe leave more things unsaid that she would like to share openly.
?Triumph and tragedy are two words that are sadly unappreciated in our lives ? Vakkina Panagiotidis has triumphed over so much tragedy in her life and I thank her for sharing her story with me?
The Triumph of Tragedy is the story of Vakkina and her struggle to achieve her dreams to be a painter and to own her own business. Read more about “The Triumph of Tragedy”