25 Mar 2021

Episode 3: VIP - Conversations With My Immigrant Parents S2

From Conversations With My Immigrant Parents, 6:00 am on 25 March 2021

Content warning: This episode explores themes around mental health.

After four years studying in Dunedin, Alby has just moved back in with his mum Lina in Naenae. The two of them discuss Lina’s career, Alby’s grief, and who our lives are lived for.

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Albert and Lina Fairbrother stand under an umbrella at Taita Cemetery

Albert and Lina Fairbrother stand under an umbrella at Taita Cemetery Photo: Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu

When Lina Fairbrother came to Aotearoa from Sāmoa in 1986, the move was a chance to improve the lives of loved ones at home, as well as to give her potential children here more of a leg-up in the world than she had.

“That is the main reason why I came here,  to help my family to have a future here.”

Albert Fairbrother (Alby) in Ōtepoti

Albert Fairbrother (Alby) in Ōtepoti Photo: Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu

A few years after arriving here, Lina in her own words, “met my honey” in Albert Fairbrother Sr. They married had one son, who they also named Albert Fairbrother. The three of them lived in Naenae, Lower Hutt. Albert Fairbrother Sr was 26 years older than Lina when they married, which caused some trouble at family gatherings.

“Uncle Maiava said, ‘Oh he’s too old for you, look for another one,’” remembers Lina.

Alby gets emotional at his surprise farewell at Otago University

Alby gets emotional at his surprise farewell at Otago University Photo: Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu

Alby’s dad passed away when he was still in Year 12, something which dramatically changed how he experienced his last year at school. He describes attaining university entrance early, but his grades dropped so low in his final year that he was unable to get into university without sitting extra exams.

He moved to Dunedin to study at Otago in 2017 and took some time to adjust to the lifestyle and the community.

Alby receives a t-shirt as a gift

Alby receives a t-shirt as a gift Photo: Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu

This episode was recorded the day after Alby left his hall of residence and his life in Dunedin to move back in with Lina. He recently got his first job, a graduate position writing policy for the Ministry of Primary Industries, the same government department that Lina coincidentally has worked in as part of the cleaning staff for the last 10 years.

Lina’s perception of her job is an important counterpoint to the ways immigrant workers in cleaning roles have widely been portrayed.

Lina stands outside her home in Naenae

Lina stands outside her home in Naenae Photo: Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu

“I told people at MPI, ‘My team, we are VIP people.’ They look at me and I say, ‘We are very important people. Without us, who’s going to clean your mess?’ I’m not ashamed because it pays the bills, buys the food. I do it with passion because I’m a cleaner, and I’m so happy to call myself a cleaner.”

This episode reveals an honest and challenging conversation that explores this mother and son’s close relationship and respect for each other, as well as their shared grief, and differing approaches to life and work.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202
  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
  • What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)
  • Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
  • Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
  • Healthline: 0800 611 116
  • Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Series Classification: G (General Programmes)

[click here for more episodes]

(L-R) Podcast hosts Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu.

(L-R) Podcast hosts Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu. Photo: Saraid de Silva / Julie Zhu

Conversations With My Immigrant Parents is a podcast and video series hosted, produced, and directed by Saraid de Silva and Julie Zhu.

Saraid de Silva is a Sri Lankan/Pākehā actor and writer.  Her work deals with contemporary feminism and the realities of being a first generation South Asian New Zealander.

Born in China, Julie Zhu is a filmmaker, photographer, and storyteller focused on championing the stories and voices of marginalised identities.

| Twitter: @saraiddesilva@juliezhuu | Instagram: @convoswithmy | Facebook: whereareyoufromreally |

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