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Sunday, February 25, 2024

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Historical Happening

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Community service at Salt Ministries

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New caretakers for Pioneer Village Museum

I’m delighted to introduce readers to our new caretakers, Patrice and Isabelle Caron. Below Patrice tells you something about themselves. They are very enthusiastic about their new position, and keen to get to know our community. Please say hello to them when you can, and make them welcome.                                                                                              Tony Barnett

A Belgian family, Patrice (French for Patrick), Isabelle, Archibald (18) and FlorElise (16)  arrived in Australia for the first time. The plan was to stay for 11 days to visit relatives and discover a bit of Australia. They have now stayed for 2½ years, as their return tickets got cancelled due to Covid.

Now, of course, they could go back to Belgium, but Australia and especially Australians have made such a positive impression on them that after a few months they could not see the point anymore in going back to Europe or to China. China, yes, because that is the whole reason why they ended up in Australia in the first place. Patrice, a lawyer by education, has worked for the last 20 years for a company specialising in museum display cases. By 2019 he had had enough of city life in Europe and needed a change. It didn’t have to be as radical as China, but that is the opportunity that presented itself. .So the family ploughed their way through the heavy administration for a whole year (2019) to obtain a working and residence permit for China, and finally arrived in China on 1 January 2020. Great timing! After only one month, Covid had expanded from Wuhan and panic had reached Beijing. The lock-down in Beijing coincided with the Chinese New Year and  public life came to a complete standstill ,with no set date to open up again. It became clear to the family that, in spite of their residence and working permit, China may not have been the best idea, and they decided to leave China as soon as possible. However, Australia had already closed its borders to people from China by then, so they had to find another destination (and if possible not Europe which they had only left a few weeks earlier). Thailand came up as one of the few countries still open. After one month in Thailand, the family arrived in Australia.

Since then they have lived in Foxground and Berry, and were privileged to be helped out of their uncertain situation by the St-Patrick’s community of Berry. For these 2½ years they have met only lovely people and believe they landed in paradise. They insist, this is neither a figure a speech nor an exaggeration.

Both children had no difficulty in adapting to the Australian way of life and both are thriving in this beautiful country. FlorElise has just finished year 11 at St-John’s in Nowra and Archibald is now learning the ropes of a tradie. Isabelle is a sculptor and Patrice, since his arrival in Australia, has embraced a new career as a writer. He is now in the process of publishing his fourth novel (published in French and English).and, being a newbie in this domain, he is particularly glad to have obtained excellent reviews.

Patrice Caron

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