From high security to safe community.
When circumstances left Andries and Emmie Wepener re-evaluating their life and opportunities in home town Johannesburg, they decided to relocate with their two young boys, starting a new life in Adelaide .
After attending an information session in Johannesburg to migrate to Australia, Andries and Emmie, Adelaide seemed like the best location to start a new life with their young family.
“It seemed to be more suited to where we wanted to be,” Andries says. “The weather and lifestyle in South Australia is very much on par with that of South Africa.”
The family moved in 1999, signing up for the ‘meet and greet’ service offered at the time by the South Australian Government.
“I still remember the couple who helped us,” Andries says. “Tony and Lyn, who were from Victor Harbor, organised our transport at the airport to take us to our initial housing at Ascot Park. We stayed in this accommodation for three months until we got familiar with the city and where we wanted to live. They also provided information and advice on all aspects of what we needed to set up home and school for the boys.”
Emmie says seeking advice and assistance from locals on arrival is a great way to settle in as fast as possible. But she says it wasn’t all easy settling in – her initial impressions of Adelaide were quite the opposite to their love affair with the city now, largely due to cultural differences.
“To be honest, I was in shock when we arrived in Adelaide,” she says. “We had to deal with what we perceived to be a lack of security. Andries and I took it in turns to stay up at night when the other was sleeping. We were not used to living in a home with no bars on the windows and high security. It took about two weeks before we actually relaxed and realised that this is Adelaide and our new home and family are safe. It is nothing like it was in Johannesburg.”
Once the family became accustomed to their new environment, they were more relaxed and able to enjoy their surroundings and decided it was time to search for a home of their own.
“We were drawn to the southern suburbs, but took a real liking to the Hallet Cove region, which is where we settled and still live,” Andries says.
“We just knew that this was it; this is where we want to live,” adds Emmie.
The pair were also able to find employment not long after settling. A qualified diesel mechanic, Andries has now been working for the Onkaparinga Council for more than 20 years. Emmie also secured a position in her field with the South Australian Government soon after the move.
They have now called Adelaide home for almost two decades, and their sons are starting families of their own.
“We are very happy with our decision to come to Adelaide, and our boys (now 28 and 32 years old) have thrived,” Emmie says. “They really enjoyed school and have both grown up and are now with their own partners. Our youngest is expecting our first grandchild, so we are very excited.”
They say while migration is not always easy to begin with, if you remain positive and open to new experiences and overcoming challenges, the rest will unfold.
“Don’t think or assume that everything will fall into place easily and quickly. Sometimes things take a bit of time,” Andries says. “You need to remain humble. Sometimes your experience and expectations need to be adjusted. Be open and try new things.”
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