Yildiz Dervish was born in Polis in north-west Cyprus in 1925. She was one of a large middle class family of seven sisters and one brother. She was educated and determined not to marry a number of suitors who all worked on the land. When the offer of marriage came from Redjeb Eyyam to her parents, she accepted although they had never met. Redjeb, born in 1922, was a boot maker by trade and had already migrated alone to Melbourne in 1949 in search of a better life from post-war, economically poor Cyprus which at that time was still a crown colony of Great Britain. They married by proxy in February, 1951 and after making her preparations, she farewelled her family and set sail for Australia from the port of Limassol on17 December, 1951 on board the 'Corsica' (Liguria).
Yildiz' recollection is that it took two and a half months to get to Melbourne, arriving in Fremantle on 25 January, 1952 and finally Station Pier in Melbourne on 4 February, 1952. The ship was carrying a cargo of rotted onions which prevented it from docking immediately so Redjeb hired a row boat to row out to the ship where he would throw chocolates to Yildiz until they finally cleared quarantine and the couple were united. Yildiz was among only a small number of Turkish Cypriot migrants to come out to Australia. She spoke no English and knew no-one, not even her husband. She never worked in Australia. At the passport office in Cyprus Redjeb's name spelling was changed to Eyiam (having been told that English words don't recognise double 'y').
Redjeb spoke no English and found no work as a bootmaker. He was employed as a general factory worker, first at the Coussins factory and then at Colonial Gas in Yarraville. He had saved enough money to buy their first small house in Prahran before moving to Footscray which seemed like 'the end of the earth' to Yildiz. They took in boarders to help pay their mortgage. Their first child (a son) Ali was born in 1953, followed by daughters Eshref in 1955, Sheri in 1957 and Rebiye in 1961. As one of a large family, Yildiz over the years managed to sponsor a niece or nephew from each of her siblings and they in turn brought their families out to Australia from the late 1960s. Both Redjeb and Yildiz encouraged their children's education, unusual at that time in that community, and they all eventually went to university.
Yildiz returned to Cyprus on her own with a group of Cypriot families in 1971, followed by visits with Sheri and Rebiye in 1978, 1985 and 1989. Redjeb never went back. He became very involved with the local Cypriot community. He died in 2011 and Yildiz currently lives in an aged care residence in Footscray.