To acknowledge and celebrate International Women’s Day, we showcase the women at Belvedere Aged Care who have led extraordinary lives. Women who, at the core of their individual story, reveal similar threads of passion, love and determination that makes them leaders of their own lives and in their own way.
The women of Belvedere come from diverse backgrounds worthy of celebrating and paying deep respect to – not only on International Women’s Day, but each and every day.
Christine – The glittering star, Sri Lanka
Born in Sri Lanka, Christine was the youngest of 4 sisters who shared a love of singing. At age 18, Christine and her older sisters’ musical group the “Andrews Sisters of Sri Lanka” sang in bars and clubs with their popularity soaring as they renamed their group the “De Silva Sisters”. Christine would go on to sing at many exclusive hotels in Sri Lanka including Colombo’s famed Grand Oriental Hotel room, and at its plush Harbour Room. In 1973, Christine performed at the opening of the Intercontinental Hotel, Colombo’s first 5-star hotel, a fond memory of her career.
Once, Christine sang for the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan impressing them with her version of ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ sung in Japanese. So impressed was the Japanese Ambassador, that he invited Christine to sing at ‘Expo 70’, the world-fair held in Osaka, Japan. With Christine and her husband Don starting a family, this invitation was unfortunately not possible.
In Australia, Christine and her musician husband Don formed “Super Christie” and continued to play popular clubs, hotels and Christian events. In 2010 and 2011, their music led them to the Holy Land to sing songs of worship. Christine’s faith, spiritual connections and passion for singing continued within her Christian community. So proud she is of her family and faith, Christine speaks proudly of her daughters carrying on her footsteps of loving music, loving God and pursuing their own musical careers.
Krystyna – Lawyer, Photographer
Krystyna graduated from law school with a Master’s degree in Family Law in Warsaw, Poland. But as the political situation was intensifying in Poland a State of Emergency was declared in the spring of 1981 and Krystyna followed her family’s call to Chicago, America. There, to get a Green Card and become a US citizen Krystyna went back to University to become a legal secretary. Her existing qualifications not recognised. At University, she studied Geography and Computer Science at the IBM Computer Learning Centre. This, combined with her love of Art and Photography, made her destined to lead her creative life.
Having travelled across Europe, Krystyna recalls her earliest times as a photographer in London in the early 1990s. Once asked to photograph the Mardis Gras Ball London’s Windsor Hotel, Krystina remembers being shocked and awed by the 500 attendees; men dressed up in the most beautiful dresses, headpieces and make-up, all, of nobility. Her experience and ability to put herself in situations that both shocked and awed her gave Krystyna great resilience and determination to photograph unique events.
In the mid-1990s Krystyna photographed the Paralympic games trials that took place in Ballarat. It was an assignment Krystyna will never forget, “Young kids without arms or legs or paralysed, competing with other kids so fiercely, so determined to win. I could not show my emotions and it was the biggest challenge in my life as a photographer. It was very rewarding, but I was shaken to the core for a long time. I realised how lucky we are”.
Giulia – Life on the farm, Elmore Victoria
Growing up in Biglialo, a small town located in the Tuscan province of Massa, in 1954 Giulia and her husband immigrated to Elmore, North-East Victoria. Living a life on the farm, their first farm produced tomato pulp for the Heinz Factory. After 3 years, they turned the farm into a successful dairy farm buying 144 Fresian cows and providing milk to the Rochester Dairy factory.
Gruelling work, Guilia remembers milking all 144 cows by herself, waking up at the crack of dawn caring and tending to her dairy cows every day. As the years passed and struggles ensued, they sold their farm and moved to raise cattle and sheep on 50 acres of land.
“It was a hard life, but I would not want to miss a day of those memories.” She recalls.
“It was a free life on the land. And it was good land. It served me, my husband and my children well. Farming was my life”.
Now a passionate retired bowls player, Giulia has played for 4 Bowling Clubs for 29 years and received numerous trophies for her skills and talents as a bowler. In 2018, Giulia retired from bowling having played for Elmont Bowling Club, Rochester Bowling Club, Bellmont Bowling Club and Geelong Bowling Club.
Raising 2 daughters and proud grandparent to 5 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, in quiet moments, Giulia admits how much she still misses life on the farm. “Look at my hands, they are the hands of a farmer who worked hard every day but enjoyed every day”