real life

'I was watching TV with my brother when suddenly the house started shaking.'

25 April, 2015. It was a Saturday, nearly midday. Dikshya Rawal was sitting in her bedroom watching television with her brother when her neighbourhood to crumble.

“[It] was really scary, I saw houses shaking, people crying and disaster everywhere,” the now-14-year-old told Mamamia.

“I held onto my brother’s hand and my Mum until it stopped. When the tremors ended we went downstairs and saw rubble and broken houses everywhere, a pile of it was outside our house. People were scared, everyone was crying, it was really horrible.”

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake had struck in Gorkha, Nepal, less than 80km northwest of the capital Kathmandu. Nine thousand people were killed and more than 21,000 injured, making the quake the worst natural disaster to strike the country in more than 80 years.

At the time, Dikshya’s father, Yagya, was nearly 10,000km away in Australia, forging a new life for his family.

“When I heard about [the earthquake] I went straight there, the city was destroyed, and disaster was everywhere. It looked like death. My family was so scared. Dikshya was only a young girl and wanted to move to Australia, she wanted to be safe. ”

Dikshya with her parents, Yagya Rawal and Janaki Vista. Image: Supplied.

Today, Dikshya and her family all live together on NSW's Central Coast, where the teenager attends the local high school.

"Life in Australia is very different to life in Nepal. I miss my friends, family and school but I have new friends and a new school in Australia which I love. Australia is a very beautiful country, so I am happy that I get to live here and have the opportunities I have now," she said.

Opportunities like being selected as a torch bearer in the 2018 Winter Olympic torch relay in South Korea. Dikshya was selected for the honour by Samsung, which sponsors her school's STEM learning hub programme.

"I think I was chosen because I love school and regularly participate in activities. I am so happy that Samsung has given me the chance to run the torch relay, I was really excited to find out this was happening," she said.


Dikshya is among the 7,500 people carrying the flame to PyeongChang by February 9, including three fellow Australians to be chosen by Samsung: Hayley Teasdale, a scientific researcher from Canberra, Sydney businessman and philanthropist John Winning and David Dorsett-Lynn, a community leader from Busselton, Western Australia.

Listen: Scott Pape reflects on losing everything in a natural disaster. (Post continues...)

"I didn’t believe it when her teacher first told me; I had to ask her twice!" Yagya said. "I was so happy for Dikshya, it is unbelievable and a great opportunity for her," he said.

For him, it's a sign that their family's struggle has paid off, that his "special" little girl finally has the life she deserves.

"It has been very hard, we have had to start from nothing. It is financially hard to manage everything, but to provide a new life for my family is worth it," he said.

"I think Dikshya shows the spirit of a very determined young woman, she is constantly striving to achieve her dreams. I think they saw this and thought she was the kind of person who deserved to carry the torch.

"I am very proud of her."