Andy from Adelaide
Hello my name is Andy
“I’m fifty-three, born in 1959, and live in Adelaide, and I’ve been here all my life. When I was nine years old my father passed away. He was only thirty-five. So my mother had six children to raise on her own. I was the second eldest. So I guess I came up without a father. All my brothers and sisters are married, and Mum is eighty-four, so yes she’s still around…
The family is a big interest of mine, of course. My wife and I have five children, and eleven grandchildren.”
“My family is quite musical, and we always used to play together, mainly myself on the piano and my brothers on the guitars, then a bit of drums were added in. Our children were also very interested in music. My eldest daughter played the pedal steel, my son Travis, played the guitar, the next one down played the dobro, and the next one down played the banjo. So it was a bit of a country sort of a thing happening there.
We weren’t that professional, but we had a hang of a lot of fun.
I love travelling, travelling overseas, different cultures, different food, different people, and seeing how, you know, people operate. I’m not only talking of community now, but just going round and seeing different places, different people is a love of mine.
We were first asked to go to India to help improve some friends’ sanitary conditions, and living conditions, water quality, and so on. I ended up taking my wife and four children and moving over there for 2 years renting a house in Mumbai. Some of the people we were helping were living in an area just outside the main part of Mumbai, and they had very small dwellings, and a number of children, and they were pumping water from a hundred and fifty feet down with hand pumps, and taking the receptacles into their cabins to use water for everyday living. And that water was bacteria contaminated to the point of being thousands of times higher in parts per million of bacteria than what would be acceptable in a Western country.
So we went over there to improve those conditions. We installed pumps, water filtration systems, and sterilising, sterilisation systems there. And after the first week, with several of us working on it, they had water that anyone could drink, it was pure. And then, of course, there was drainage work to do, and fixing up their cabins. So that’s where we first touched Mumbai.
You see the conditions over there: there’s the very rich and the very poor, and not much in between.
Just near our house there were some families living in little humpies – they were eight foot by six foot for a family of four. They’d been there for years. We knew some of the people living in them, and they were very, very friendly, nice people, but poor as poor. They had next to no possessions, went to collect their water every day. They’d wash the kids standing on the rocks outside their place.
One of them brought word to us one day that their son had been bitten by a rabid dog, and he was dying. We hadn’t known about it, but it had happened four days earlier, and by now he was vomiting continuously and he couldn’t stand.
So we acted immediately; just put him in the car, and took him down to the hospital. The family could not hospitalise him – they had no money. He would have died. So we paid for him to be treated in hospital, and they did get him through, which is unusual. And it cost us just over 7,000 rupees. At that time that was $350.
So $350 for a life, this fifteen-year-old boy sitting up in the bed, you know, with a big smile on his face, I mean, that was worth, you know, three million dollars. So it was amazing experiences like that, it almost made it too much to leave it and come back, if you know what I mean. India was a brilliant experience: a thousand sights a day, and something happening all the time.
A while after we returned from India, I started my own business, importing and wholesaling automotive products like exhausts, suspension, brakes and steering products. I was able to employ all my children until they got married and left, and my son was with me right up until we sold the business. We did that for thirteen years then sold that off, and I went to work for a consultancy business.
I worked for them for about three years, and that’s where I started the overseas trips. They sent me off on project work. Someone wanted to amalgamate some businesses or start a new business, and we would help them do it.
I always loved helping businesses. Going in there, if the business was struggling or whatever, or they needed some assistance and processes, some structure around it, to get in there and just take them back to grass roots and build it properly. So that gave us that opportunity; and a lot of training and coaching. And then that took us overseas, where there were several diverse businesses – from mobile house-building to beer chilling. There was one in Zurich Switzerland, which had eight small businesses joining up into one. Those eight businesses became eight products so we had to add a structure for the teams: sales, marketing, admin, finance, they were all in different roles, all had to learn different products, it was a major challenge.
In North America, a company that does design and construction of commercial interior fitouts asked me to do some work for them to get a business in Chicago up and running. So the family all moved to Chicago for eight months, to get that off the ground.
When we came back to Australia I still had my own business, but the American company I’d been working for suggested I worked for them full-time here in Australia. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past twelve months.
On Life & the Community
I enjoy what I’m doing, I’d like to keep doing that. Still got a bit of life left in me, and I like to be busy and keep the brain active. But then going forward I’d like to be looking forward to the time where you could sort of take more time off, and go and see the grandchildren more, have them over more, and relax back a bit.
Doing things for others without any payment is something that I’ve always found excites me and gets me going. You know, helping someone out on their house, or even helping someone out financially, or sitting down with them, just encouraging them. I’d like to have a bit of free time to be able to help others. It’s always a very rewarding experience to help others, rather than do something just for yourself.
My experience of being a part of the community is really about safety and security. I mean, anyone in their lives at any time and in any area, whether it be business or private time, home life, school, whatever; they all want safety and security. Just to have that feeling of security I think is very important.
So knowing there’s a support system, and that it’s based on unselfish motives, good sound teaching, and knowing that there are many people who genuinely care about you, and you can call on them at any time for assistance, not only for yourself, but assistance in helping someone else; and a level of trust, you could trust nearly every member in the community. And that’s proven over fifty years in my case, that level of trust you can have, not looking over your shoulder, that’s powerful stuff, and that’s really what makes me feel good about being part of the community.
I guess that sort of safety and assurance removes, you know, fifty or sixty per cent of life’s anxieties immediately. And the rest is about having a good time socially or whatever with friends, without having to feel guilty or bad about anything afterwards. And that is a very enjoyable experience.