How a migrant’s struggle became ultimate success

Bruno and Rosina inside the corner store with their three boys in the 1970s, from left, the outside of the Belfied store and with their six grandchildren.

Story appeared in: Seniors | September 20th, 2017

All migrants and refugees taking their first step in a new country are brave but in the 1950s, there were no support services or welcoming community enclave. With sheer guts and hard yakka, this is how one man rose above all the odds, including racism which would not be tolerated today, to achieve his goals ...

BURSTING with dreams of a bigger life and inspired by stories from his uncle who had emigrated to America, Bruno Vartuli, 24, decided to leave the safety of his Italian village, Arena Vibo Valentia and his beautiful teenaged bride, Rosina, to try his luck in a new land and where better than the land of opportunity, Australia.
Italy had been left devastated by the Second World War and although love and food on the table every night were in abundance, opportunities and money were not.
A confident young man who had taken advantage of every opportunity that came his way, Bruno took the brave step to emigrate and never looked back.
It took years, however, to save enough money where he felt financially adequate to send for his wife.
After nearly 70 years of settling in Australia, Belfield resident Bruno, now 92, and with both himself and his wife retired, has detailed his fascinating adventures in 'My Life as a Foreigner in the 1950s'.
Bruno knew there would be tough times ahead but what he didn't realise was the level of racism which permeated every facet of his new life, with most attitudes based on fear - fear that the New Australian would end the Aussie way of life instead of the reality of adding to the rich fabric of multiculturalism.
Bruno says: "One day I walked from George St to Central Station to Circular Quay and around the Kings Cross nightspots to find a cappuccino … but had to buy the popular drink of the time - a milkshake … now there are cappuccino machines in every bar, cafe and restaurant …"
He takes the reader on a journey from the picturesque fields of Italy and the rugged conditions migrants endured working on the Snowy Mountains Scheme, to the factory floors of Sydney in the 1950s and the ultimate satisfaction yet hard work of running their own business.
But this is not just any journey - this is a journey sprinkled with wise words and lessons that are as relevant today as they always have been.
The father of three and grandfather of six is a role model for all - not just migrants who will find Bruno's tale very relatable, inspiring and comforting, but by others who seemingly grew up in a culture that judged everybody on their ability to 'speak the lingo'.
Bruno also believes the key to successful assimilation lies with communication: "Learning the language of the land is vital … and education, who doesn't want to increase their skills or knowledge? I believe my story would also be beneficial to the younger generation."
Bruno's story is not unique but it is none the less a gripping tale of getting established in a new country, raising a family and ultimately, enjoying the feeling of integration at last.
Order your copy of 'My Life as a Foreigner in the 1950s' on, book depositor and other libraries online or see more on youtube and facebook.

comments powered by Disqus
Publication: Seniors | Section: Seniors Lifestyle General | Author: Cindy Lynch | Story ID: 129687 | Viewcount: 17786