Nepalese student excels at school
The town of Feilding is a far cry from life in a Nepalese refugee camp, but Durga Lal Budathoki still smiles when he talks about home.
The first 14 years of his existence were spent living in a Nepalese refugee camp.
"That was where I was born. That's where we lived until we came here.
"It was quite good. We had lots of friends and even though the life was quite hard, we still had lots of fun."
In 2009, Durga Lal's family emigrated to New Zealand. They spent 4-5 weeks in Auckland learning how to adjust to the Kiwi lifestyle, then moved to Nelson and later, Christchurch.
Now the family of seven reside in Feilding after the February 22, 2011, quake uprooted them.
The earthquake left Durga Lal's sister too frightened to return to Christchurch. The family travelled to Auckland after the earthquake, before settling in Feilding.
That was in April last year, and Durga Lal has leapt from strength to strength at Feilding High School.
Last Tuesday, Durga Lal's desire to make the most of the education opportunities now available to him was rewarded with a Heads Up For Kids Scholarship.
Along with $200 to spend on stationery, the scholarship will pay for him to sail with the Spirit of Adventure, a 10-day training camp sailing with other students.
It's an experience which would have likely been denied to him living in landlocked Nepal, he says.
"I know some people in Nepal who are very bright, but had no opportunities to study.
"Here, if you're good you get help to study."
Durga Lal is humble, and brushes off any attention about the scholarship, saying merely that it had felt good but scary to accept the award at the school's fortnightly assembly.
Home is never far from his thoughts, and Darga Lal says he misses his old life "quite a lot".
Many of his friends live all around the world now, but he has found many of them on Facebook.
"Some of them are still in camps and don't have Facebook, but as soon as they get to America or other countries, they join Facebook, so it's easy to find them. I'm still finding some."
Durga Lal is the middle child of five – he has two elder sisters and two younger sisters.
Having four sisters is "pretty cool".
His father thought New Zealand was a peaceful country, Durga Lal says, and it was far from the conflicts of Nepal.
"It's quite peaceful and [Feilding] is a small town compared with Christchurch. We like the country life."
Durga Lal began to attend Feilding High School in the second term last year and worked diligently to catch up on the work he had missed in the first term.
After high school, the 17-year-old wants to go to medical school. "It's a big dream to be a doctor. I will try my best."
Ellen Witt nominated Durga Lal to receive the scholarship.
Mrs Witt is a volunteer with Refugee Services, and met the Budathoki family about a year ago.
"He is an outstanding student," Mrs Witt says. "He is polite and friendly and he tries his best in every subject."
Durga Lal also helps his family in many ways, and acts as a translator for other Nepalese students.
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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