It all started back in September 2016, when, whilst sitting in her bedroom reminiscing her younger years, 59-year-old Vasiliki Varitellis Danas decided to launch the Early Greek Australians Facebook page that honours and celebrates the lives of Greek immigrants since the 1800s.
“I was looking through some old black and white family photos that reminded me of my life in Greece and Australia and I was feeling homesick and nostalgic. That’s when the idea of Early Greek Australians was born,” Vicky said in an interview with Neos Kosmos.
Initially, EGA started as a tool for the mother of three to share her own photos and fond memories online but, within months, the page was saturated with requests from other migrants who wished to join and share their own life experiences and migration stories.
“Today we are proud to say that our little community counts over 16,000 members who actively interact with each other, share their own remarkable adventures, post old photos and openly discuss the difficulties and struggles their grandparents and parents endured after leaving Greece,” said the 59-year-old English School teacher.
The photographic material and historical data shared amongst the members are regarded by many as a real treasure and an important part of Australia’s Greek migration history.
“I feel that through this page we all have the opportunity to celebrate and bequeath to the next generation the experiences and stories of those remarkable strong and unique people, who from 1825 onwards, lived and worked in Australia seeking to create a better life for themselves and their families.
“When I communicate with members that constantly express their gratitude about how important this page is to them, I feel happy and content that I am in a position to give back to our wider Greek Australian community in such a positive way,” said Vicky whose parents originated from the island of Lesvos and migrated to Australia, in May 1960, just months after she was born.
The young family moved in a little house in Redfern, in the inner suburbs of Sydney, which they had to share with other families, before moving permanently to Monterey.
Vicky attended Bourke Street Primary School in Surry Hills.
After completing her studies, she started travelling the world teaching English to foreign students.
Despite the fact her work took her to places such as Saudi Arabia, London, Paris and Geneva, Vicky felt a connection with her birth country and moved to Greece to have her own family.
“I will never forget the years I spent in Australia and I make sure l go back to visit my mother and sisters every couple of years, but my heart will always belong to Greece,” she concluded.