|OLYMPIA PEARCE RIZIDIS - WRITER
I was born in Florina Greece 1947 during the civil war. I had two older brothers (Heraklis & Eleftherios) and a younger sister (Anastasia) My parents Olga and Gianni Rizidis were Asian Minor Greeks. I was influenced by their stories and was always fascinated to hear them. My brother Heraklis migrated to Australia in 1954 and he sponsored the rest of the family to come to Australia in 1955.
I went to Oakleigh State Primary and Huntingdale High schools in Victoria until grade 10 and then joined the bank. I married at 18 and had two children Vasilios and Maria. We moved to Queensland in 1976.
I was involved with my children in their schools' activities to encourage them as they both played the violin and the viola. They were involved in the Logan youth orchestra and I was the secretary in that committee. I was always proud of them as they went on to study at University.
I worked as a teachers' aid at Kingston High for a few years while my children were growing up.
Unfortunately my marriage was not successful so I left my husband and worked hard in Real estate. I was one of the top sales persons in Queensland from 1989 to 1994 and won many awards. I worked in Real Estate Sales and Property Management until 2001.
With my second husband Tony Pearce we travelled extensively and he encouraged me as I studied Ecumenical Chaplaincy and 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education. I work as a volunteer hospital chaplain at Logan Hospital in Queensland.
I founded and am currently the President of a garden club at Claremont Resort where we live. It has been a very successful venture as we have forty six members meeting monthly and it is growing every month.
I have studied creative writing at Queensland University and Logan TAFE and also completed writers' courses as I love to write. I have had poetry published and with a number of other writers have had a book published by Debut Publishing - a collection of short mystery stories entitled "Noosa Mysteries."
My book "This is our Promised Land", has just been published by Boolarong Press I was inspired by Suzanna De Vries "Blue Ribbons Bitter Bread" as that book touched on the horrendous ordeals that my family went through in the exchange of the populace of Greeks and Turkey in 1922. I heard many stories told by my grandmother and my parents so I started a journey of researching immigration and museum records, Google and also by visiting Turkey and Greece a number of times.
In Turkey I found my father's house still locked up as they had left it in 1922. I have over the years interviewed relatives and friends both in Greece and Australia in order for me to write this book.
This is our Promised Land, is my first book published by Boolarong Press. This is the story of my family's fight for survival throughout their lives. It traces from the times when my father and his parents (who were Asian Minor Greeks) were expelled from Turkey with around 1,500,00 others. It reveals their turbulent and horrendous times being forced onto boats taking them to refugee camps in Greece. They battled near starvation in these refugee camps and lost loved ones. They survived the Second World War and the Civil war in Greece.
The family migrated to Australia and although life was easier for us, we all continued to work hard to better ourselves. We had to adjust to a new language, new lifestyles and customs. We all put our trust in God as we dealt with life, death, loneliness and suffering. As we all shared life stories with each other. That showed that we were not alone, that we can all learn to heal each other's emotional wounds simply by listening and sharing.
Family, relatives and friends all upheld and supported each other as we settled into this new country.
We had finally found peace and freedom in this Promised Land.