Helen Fuller is a grandmother of 10 whose accidental eavesdropping on a Melbourne train led to the most unlikely of circumstances.
The 73-year-old was travelling from Springvale to the City for a physio appointment. She was seated across from a “nice looking man” who was chatting away to the lady beside him. He was telling another woman he and his family were new to the country and hadn’t yet been outside of Melbourne, but one day hoped to see more.
All the while, Helen sat and listened.
She’d been thinking about her holiday house in the Victorian coastal town of Rye. She would often offer it to family or people she knew if she thought they needed a holiday. But lately, she’d been thinking about offering it to someone who never received the opportunity for a beach holiday; a respite for a family who usually couldn’t afford it.
Problem was, she didn’t quite know how to go about it.
As she sat, the man mentioned to his fellow passenger that he was a refugee from Afghanistan. Helen said it was “as if a light bulb went off”.
“I just thought, ‘Well, he’s the person’,” she said.
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“So I just leant over and said, ‘Excuse me, I hope you’ll forgive me, I just wondered if you would like to use our beach house for a week and take your family down there’.”
It was something Abuzar Mazoori, a part-time student and youth worker, never expected. His reaction was hesitant. Why would someone offer something for nothing in a country where he was an outsider? Why would a stranger on a train extend the hand of friendship?
They talked it over. Swapped numbers. The retired primary school teacher waited a few days, but the phone didn’t ring.
“I thought he was shy,” she said. “So I rang him.”
Of course she did. Ain’t nobody got power like a grandma.