Turkish immigrant Elbide Elhan arrived in Australia in 1971 with her four young children looking for a new life. In a new country, she couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know where to go for work and was in desperate need for help.
Unbeknownst to Elbide, a chance meeting between her husband and a Greek lady by the name of Asimoula on a Northcote train would change her life forever. And it was Asimoula’s generosity, kind heart and unconditional help that would be remembered forever. And now, the 76-year-old Elbide wants to say thanks – one last time.
Elbide’s daughter Kerry Cokelek contacted Neos Kosmos to find this lady for her mother. She said it’s very important that her mother says thanks to this lady, and her sister-in-law Toula, and is asking members of the Greek community to help find this lady, who gave the family so much through her unselfish and charitable heart.
“These ladies were true friends and they were there when mum really needed someone the most,” explains Kerry and says other than the Turkish people they met when they migrated, the two sister-in-laws were the “first ones to help” the family.
In 1971, Kerry’s father Bekir Elhan boarded the Northcote train and struck up a conversation with Asimoula. Thankfully for Bekir, Asimoula spoke Turkish. In the conversation about the struggles of migration, Bekir mentioned that his wife needed work. Asimoula’s mind went straight to her sister-in-law Toula who was then working at the Yarra Falls Knitting Mill and got Elbide a job there. This was the first of the abundance of help this lady would bring to the young family.
Elbide worked alongside Toula at Yarra Falls from 1972 to 1975. But it wasn’t just the job – Asimoula helped the family with clothes, furniture and even worked as a translator for most of the time as she could speak both Turkish and English as well as Greek. Unfortunately, Elbide lost contact with the ladies after she left her job at Yarra Falls, and now as she faces her last days, wants to say thanks to these women who helped her and her family when she needed it the most.
“Every Greek person she sees she asks ‘do you know Asimoula and Toula?’,” says her daughter Kerry.
Two months ago, Elbide went back to Turkey but sadly, she got sick and her daughter fears she’s seriously ill. Kerry says it would mean the world to her mother is she could speak to Asimoula and Toula just one last time as “it would make her so happy”.
If anyone knows the two sister-in-laws Asimoula and Toula – who are married to brothers – Kerry Cokelek would like to hear from you. She is unsure of their surname but knows that Toula worked at Yarra Falls knitting mill from 1971, and that Asimoula lived in the Northcote area, closest to Dennis Station. If you know them, or know someone that does, if you could contact Kerry on : 0412 036 190.