‘Really proud of myself’: Greek elderly turn to new creative hobbies during lockdown

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Feelings of uncertainty, sadness and a lack of motivation have all been a part of life recently as we endure countless lockdowns due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In the case of 72-year-old Anastasia Sevdalakis and 94-year-old George Rousou, they turned these negatives into positives and decided to take up new creative hobbies such as crocheting and painting during the Victorian lockdown.

Both Anastasia and George came to The Greek Herald’s attention through Australian Multicultural Community Services (AMCS) who support them, and other seniors, to live safely at home through things such as personal care, transport to medical appointments and domestic assistance.

AMCS thought they were pretty inspirational and we couldn’t agree more. Here they share their stories of why they decided to get creative in lockdown.

‘I was so happy, so relaxed’:

Anastasia Sevdalakis with some of her works.

Anastasia Sevdalakis migrated to Australia from Greece in 1966 via airplane. She was 17-and-a-half years old at the time and knew a little bit of English. She tells The Greek Herald she was able to find a job ‘straight away.’

“In Greece, I was taught how to be a dressmaker so when I came here, I found work in a sewing factory. For most of [my career], I worked as a dressmaker,” Anastasia, who has two sons and four granddaughters, says.

It’s no surprise then that during the recent Victorian lockdown, Anastasia became addicted to crocheting as a way to pass the time and keep herself busy.

“I am a person who likes to go out, to play bingo and see my friends. When lockdown happened, I wanted to do something because I like to keep myself busy,” she says.

“One day I was looking at YouTube on my phone and I saw one girl doing crochet. I thought, ‘I need to start to do something as well,’ and so slowly, slowly I started crocheting.”

So far, the 72-year-old has made things such as pillows, a coverlet and even bags for her granddaughters. She says she’s never been happier.

“I was so happy, so relaxed. I would clean my house and then I would sit and do some crocheting and my day passed by beautifully,” Anastasia explains with a smile.

“I wasn’t thinking about lockdown and it helped me so much mentally. Even now, where there is no lockdown, I’m still making some new designs and times flies.”

‘It’s amazing how I picked it up’:

George Rousou with his artworks.

George Rousou left Cyprus at the tender age of 23 and arrived in Australia by boat in 1951. His daughter, Yvonne, tells The Greek Herald he instantly started working ‘in places where no one else wanted to work.’

“He worked in an abattoir, a rubber factory and crane driving. It was all taught by other Australians or other migrants because dad didn’t speak any English. So he was taken under the wing by lots of really good people and taught how to do things on the job,” Yvonne says.

“Later on, he picked up the skill of a carpenter and worked for the Housing Commission for about 13 years and then went off and was a carpenter working subcontracts around the northern and western suburbs.”

George’s artworks.

During the recent lockdown in Victoria, George added ‘talented painter’ to this list of achievements as well. He says he enjoyed getting up in the morning, walking over to his dining room table and getting immersed in a painting.

“The minute I get a pencil to start doing it, it’s amazing how I picked it up and I’m proud of myself,” George says with a laugh.

The 94-year-old is now surrounded by various original works of art depicting flowers, birds and nature and he loves to share his passion with everyone, including the AMCS support workers who visit him and help with housekeeping.

“He’s taken over the dining room table and it’s consuming him. It’s actually been a really great stress relief during COVID,” his daughter concludes.

“He gets great joy out of just colouring in and using his own imagination to produce some beautiful stuff and we’re very proud of him.”

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