We Are Orana – Madhu and Family

Posted in: Community
Madhu’s Australian Dream’

Growing up in India, Madhu always dreamed of her future beyond the upbringing that had kept generations of women in her family out of the life of independence that she longed for. When she was six Madhu made a promise to her mother, “Don’t worry Mum, I’ll have my own house one day, and I’ll put my name on it, along with yours.” This would be impossible in India, where women can’t own property, but Madhu was determined. 

With her mother’s support, along with her own hard work and drive Madhu started to forge her own future beyond what was set for her culturally, and studied, earning two masters degrees in teaching and met her husband Raj. Together they dreamed of building their future in Australia and having made the tough decision to leave their two year old son Hashmit behind, left their homeland to set up their new lives in Melbourne with just $300 between them.

On arriving in Melbourne Raj headed North to work on the farms in Mildura, whilst Madhu lived in a share house with 26 other people where she slept on the floor of the laundry. Taking on whatever work she could find Madhu worked on her English language and worked to make some savings to bring their son over to join them.

Eventually the pair scraped together enough to afford the deposit on a small house in Cranbourne West. Later they would move into a larger house with a decent laundry and two kitchens. In Indian tradition, Madhu was thinking of son Hashmit’s future with them and their vision for a large home to house their future grandchildren started to take shape. Hearing this, Raj said, “Madhu, you’re going to build that dream house, where your laundry is lavish and it is all in your name.” 

They saw some fine and large houses, but it was only when they discovered Orana that they found a close community in which they could feel at home. Her dream home.

“The word Orana says ‘Welcome’,” says Madhu, “It takes us back to our own country where the saying is that ‘The Guest Is God.’ It feels like someone is actually opening arms and welcoming us to be part of their life.”

Madhu fell in love with the community spirit, “It was straight away a feeling that I was back in India where neighbours can knock at the door and look out for you and help each other out. I absolutely love that part of Orana. The community forums were full of neighbours looking out for each other, offering to help fix each other’s taps or help with the painting.”

When the finishing touches were being put on their home, Raj asked what Madhu would put above the door, and thinking of her promise to her mother, Madhu roughly sketched up a plaque which read “She knows her powers” beside her and her mother’s name. 

Some time later Raj returned from India with a gift: A plaque exactly as Madhu had designed for the door of her house. He had already shown it to their families on his trip.

This was quite a bold move, as families have disowned sons for such a break from tradition, but Raj was resolute. Madhu was very proud of him, “That’s what family is about, you know? To have your dreams taken seriously.”

Madhu and Raj have settled in nicely, and found that the landscape was lush and alive, with a healthy amount of parks and trees amongst the houses. Friendly neighbours greet each other while walking dogs, people employ waste-reduction measures to keep the ecology sustainable and donate craft supplies for Madhu’s kindergarten. 

Madhu talks with her proud mother daily on the phone, they all go camping in the Australia several times a year, and one day Raj would like to take his family to explore more of India.

Through hard work and determination, Madhu and Raj are loving their Australian dream.