Archana began by saying she asked her children to suggest a theme for her talk to the club. They suggested it could be ‘Do what you want to do in life and never give up. After hearing Archana’s talk, it seemed an apt title.
Archana said she was born in Ethiopia to an Indian father and an Ethiopian mother. Her father was a university professor. He was 48 years old when she was born and her mother 16. The family eventually moved to India.
Her mother was totally controlled by her father. She could not do any-thing without his permission. She could not eat until he had eaten. He sometimes arrived home very late at night and she had to wait until he had finished his meal before she could eat. She was not al-lowed to speak to anyone or leave the house without his permission. At one stage her mother did not leave the house for six months. Archana said their house had a high wall around it and their only view of the world outside was through a peephole in the gate.
Archana said her life and her mother’s life could be summed up as adversity as a result of oppression and then triumph. Following the death of her father, her mother went back to school and at age 28 she passed year 11 at the fifth attempt. Her failures served as an impetus to keep going.
Archana dreamed , as a seven year old, of going to Australia. She said the country attracted her as it was coloured orange on the map. Her mother encouraged her to follow her dream.
Eventually some friends gave her an air ticket to Australia. She arrived in Melbourne in 2000, all alone with very little money and did whatever job would pay her some money.
She now lives in Launceston, is married to an Australian and has two children. She and her husband run a cafe that employs nineteen people. Archana says she encourages her employees to be honest, caring and kind. She instils in them that the sale of a $4.50 cup of coffee is not just a transaction, but the opportunity for a relationship. She says that kindness towards people gives them the opportunity to make a change for the better. Do everything with kindness is the key and listening is a valuable tool.
Archana was recently awarded a scholarship with the Tasmanian Leaders Programme. She said her life experience taught her that we are all human and go through tough times. She closed with a quote from Confucius. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”