Meet Barbara, an inspiring 73-year old retiree who has lived a life full of adventure, love, and resilience. As a former teacher, Barbara dedicated her working life to educating children in rural areas of Australia, including the remote towns of Cunnamulla and Chinchilla. She is a proud mother of three children and a doting grandmother to her three grandchildren.
Like many families, Barbara's family has been touched by tragedy. Her father was a World War II prisoner of war of the Japanese, and he passed away when Barbara was only 24 years old.
Despite the pain of losing her father, Barbara has continued to honour his memory through writing her first book and contributing to a documentary about Japanese war time propaganda.
In recent years, Barbara was contacted by a Japanese producer from NHK World, based in New York. He came to Australia to interview Barbara for a program called 60,000 negatives.
“He was interested in my father's wartime experience. There was a photographer who took many photographs during the time the troops were incarcerated in Singapore. He was supposed to have destroyed all evidence, but when he died, they found all the photo negatives.”
The producer was working to identify some of the men in the photographs, which led him to Australia and an interview with Barbara. While watching the documentary, Barbara was stunned to see an image of her father from when he was a prisoner of war.
Although Barbara’s father never spoke much about the war, the stories he did share were incorporated into a book she wrote during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding herself isolated away from her friends and family, Barbara decided to use the time productively. She’d always wanted to write a book but had never seemed to find the time. Drawing upon her parents' stories and experiences during times of depression and war, Barbara wrote 'Only Little Bumps,' which is a beautiful and heartfelt tale about facing life's challenges with grace.
The novel was named after a phrase her mother used to say. Barbara’s mother lost her own father when she was seven, he died sitting next to her on the train on the way home from the exhibition. Without her father to provide for the family, Barbara's mother lived in constant fear of being placed in an orphanage. Her family often lived in dire conditions or had to do “the moonlight flit” – abandoning accommodation in the middle of the night so they weren’t seen or chased for money. Despite her tough life, Barbara’s mother always remained positive.
“Mum said she didn’t have any bad things happen in her life, they were only little bumps.”
For Barbara, life has been a journey full of ups and downs. Despite experiencing multiple health conditions, including a battle with breast cancer, Barbara has managed to cultivate a spirit of strength and positivity, which no doubt stems from her parents, who were both testament to the power of resilience and the human spirit.
It's crucial for Barbara to stay connected with her local community and maintain her independence, which is why she recently joined Burnie Brae. Our goal is to create a warm and welcoming community, where people like Barbara can find new activities, people and support.
Barbara now has access to in-home care, allied health services, and exciting opportunities to connect with others at the Centre. Barbara has found a new interest in Scrabble and met incredible people who have been “really friendly” and welcoming.
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© Burnie Brae Ltd. | ABN: 39 206 062 402 | ACN: 609 476 637
Burnie Brae Ltd. | ABN: 39 206 062 402 | ACN: 609 476 637