Centenarian reflects on 100 years of life and offers advice
CELEBRATING his 100th birthday with friends and family at the Anglican Southport Respite Centre recently, Maher Wassef counted himself lucky to have lived more than half his life in Australia.
Originally from Egypt, Maher came to Australia at 49 after his home was transformed into the frontline of battle in the Six-Day War in June 1967, the final straw for him after decades of Arab-Israeli unrest.
With friends having already emigrated south, Maher, his wife Margaritte and five children caught "the first ship to Australia", smuggling a little money through to set up a home for the family.
"Here, from the first day I arrived, I had no more worries," he said.
Before retiring to the Coast, they lived in the Sydney suburb of Sylvania, Maher working as an accountant and Margaritte running a milk bar at the front of the house.Some of his nicest memories, he said, were of rowing and fishing - enjoying the peace, quiet and fresh air.
Describing Australia as a loving and caring community, he said he had never wanted to return to Egypt because it just brought back bad memories.
He loves the activities he does twice a week and friendships he has made through the Anglicare Southport Respite Program, which he has attended since 2006, originally with his late wife.
His advice for those younger than himself, he said, was to "control your life wisely", not allow others to influence you to take a bad course, and simply to enjoy what you have.
"It is a good life," he said.