I have been practising as a GP in Oakleigh, Melbourne, since 1988, after fleeing the Sri Lankan riots five years earlier. I’m one of the lucky ones, who was granted official migration acceptance as I was affected genuinely by the riots. I had been practising as a doctor since graduation in 1971, when the riots against the Tamils started.  We were living in the heart of Colombo, when a mob rushed into our house with a knife still dripping with blood at around 10.30am, and pointed it at my husband’s chest. At the time, my two kids were five and six, and it was just us, our parents and some relatives. It was our good fortune that one man in the mob — the one next to the one with the knife who was threatening my husband — asked me what a Sinhalese woman was doing next to a Tamil man, assuming that I was Sinhalese. Luckily, I spoke Sinhalese fluently, although it is not my mother tongue. So I pretended to be Sinhalese and told them I was married to the Tamil man. This made them leave us without killing anyone, but they burnt down our house and we had to take shelter with our neighbours. This event is imprinted deep in my heart, and made me realise that nothing is permanent, except the education that you have and the good that you do in the world. The incident allowed my family and me to migrate to Australia in 1984, on special humanitarian grounds. We came to Melbourne with just $500, as that was all we had. We started our new life with our two kids and nothing else. My husband, who is a civil engineer, got a job after a year. I then studied for and passed the Australian Medical Council exam in 1988. This country is my home and we are so grateful that we have been accepted here, that I feel I should give back to it as long as I live. After the 2004 tsunami, I went back to Sri Lanka to help out in Batticaloa. Since then, I have been doing the same for other countries needing help. I also help out at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. My passions include helping the poor, gardening, travelling and being a GP. So I am still working just for the love of it. Australia is a ‘sunshine country’ and we are extremely proud to be its citizens.

Dr Devi Yogaranandan
Oakleigh, VIC