Monday, June 15, 2009

From Abu Dhabi to Australia

It's been lots of fun re-reading my old blogs about our lives in Emirates. For new readers of my blog, you may be wondering how a family of South Africans went from Abu Dhabi to Australia.

Sometimes I wonder too.

We never planned to emigrate permanently. Abu Dhabi was always going to be a temporary thing. When we had enough, we would come home. Home being South Africa. We hoped to make enough money in Abu Dhabi to do just that.

Unfortunately, life didn't work out quite like we planned, and we didn't save as much of our dirhams as we hoped we would. It just wasn't possible for us, though it is for many.

But we still planned to go back. We were concerned - I'd become accustomed to life as a Domestic Goddess and freelance writer. Our Eldest Daughter was at an excellent private school, and there is no way we could afford the same in South Africa. Unless I went back to work full time, and Dear Husband took more contract work up in Africa.

But that would mean he would be on three-month rotations. And with me working full-time, and him working away, we wouldn't have much of a family life left.

And then there was the crime issue. We had become used to living with just petty crime, and although we knew we'd adjust (after all, South Africans tend to do that) to living life behind bars again, it was a concern. Hubby in particular was worried about leaving us for long periods on our own.

And just by chance, on a whim, a friend of a friend of a friend, just happend to mention that there were paramedic jobs going in Australia, and they would sponsor a temporary visa (known as a 457). We decided "what the hell" and sent off DH's CV. We didn't expect much - after all, it was just a whim.

Until they called for an interview. And then a video interview. And then it got serious. This was genuinely an option for us. It would be an easier path to Australian permanent residency, there was more chance of me getting part time work, and we would actually be able to be together as a family.

We discussed it with our respective families in South Africa. They were cautiously supportive. I questioned my Australian friends in Abu Dhabi relentlessly. I spoke to my cousin in Perth. We researched, researched and researched. More than we had done for our foray into the Middle East. This sounded good, but would it be the right choice?

DH was offered the job, and we decided to accept - despite the cost. And there was a cost. While our visa was sponsored, our flights and transport were not. We had to fly back to South Africa, ship our goods from Abu Dhabi, combine it with our stored things in South Africa, and then ship this to Australia. Then we had to pay for the container costs, our flight costs and some basic set up costs.

We used up pretty much every damn cent we had saved - our dirhams from Abu Dhabi, and the profit we'd made when we sold our house in South Africa.

And then there was the emotional cost. Saying goodbye when we left for Abu Dhabi was easy - we knew we'd be back. Saying goodbye when we left for Australia was terrible. Even on the way to the airport, we were still questioning whether this was the right choice for us.

Because in the middle of all of our planning and moving and to-ing and fro-ing, my sister-in-law died in horrific circumstances. All of a sudden, the reality of being Away from family was harder. How could we leave at this time? How could we not be there while the family mourned, and waited for justice, that still 3 years later, has yet to come for the man who caused her death.

The cost to move has been high. Very high.

But two years and six months after we left Johannesburg and arrived in Perth, I can say it was (mostly) worth it.

We have regrets (some days), and miss our families (very much, every single day), but after having lived here for this long, would we be part of the Homecoming Revolution? Would we go "home" again?

No. We are home. Here in Perth, Australia - we are home.

1 comment:

Tegwyn Ravens Wing said...

Hey Mandy I guess it's a trade off isn't it. I do know though how much you are all missed here. Great blog. Take care love Tegs