Aziz Aziz emigrated from Cyprus to Australia 65 years ago.

He moved about before settling in Sunshine two years later, and has lived there ever since.

He has always opened his door to other new arrivals.

He talks to Alexandra Laskie.

 

What’s your connection to Sunshine?

I came to Australia in 1951.

I lived in Carlton for a short time before moving to Footscray.

I moved my family to Sunshine in 1967, and we’ve been here ever since.

 

You were one of the first Cypriot Turks to move here. How old were you? How did you find the transition to life here?

My older brother came here to work first in 1948, and I came afterwards to work with him.

And we moved to Sunshine because the houses were bigger; we had four children when we first moved, before growing our family to five children.

At the time of the move, I was 21.

It was very hard when first moving to Australia because I didn’t know the language and I had no friends.

My youngest daughter lives in our family home now, and my wife and I live in a unit behind our original family home.

We’ve been married 54 years.

Our family has grown up here in Sunshine.

 

You are a carpenter by trade. What were some of the biggest projects you worked on?

I have worked as a carpenter for most of my life.

Some of the big projects I worked on included the building of Highpoint shopping centre.

That was also one of my last projects.

I injured my back while working there, and retired shortly afterwards.

But I’m very proud of that project, and seeing how much the shopping centre has grown now.

I also worked on the train bridge on Sunshine Road.

 

You’ve opened your home to new migrants for years. How did this begin?

I love helping people … in the early years I would help them settle into jobs and homes.

People used to come to me for help because they knew I had good local knowledge, and I had built many networks.

I helped neighbours and people I didn’t know with what they needed, anything I could do really.

I didn’t have to know you to help you.

I just wanted to help.

I was also one of the few people with a car, so I was able to help a lot of people for that reason, too.

And, if people needed a place to stay, we would open our home to them too.

 

You also volunteer at Sunshine mosque. Can you tell me more about what you do?

I liked to be involved in the community and wanted to contribute as much I could.

I used to help at the Sunshine mosque – with cleaning and general maintenance, like cutting the lawns.

I helped collect charity, so the mosque we have in Sunshine today could be built.

 

Do you think living in the west, and Sunshine in particular, has shaped you?

I’ve lived a good life in Sunshine.

I’m used to living here.

I know my way around; I’ve made a lot of friends, including my different neighbours over the years.

I love everything about Sunshine.

It’s grown so much from when I first moved here.

It used to be a lot of farmland.

Now there’s shops and homes everywhere.

These days I don’t drive, so I love riding my scooter around.

I ride down to the marketplace and often eat lunch at the food court.

I’ve always enjoyed the local area.