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Why we packed up our lives and moved to Nepal

World Vision
14 January 2014 by Matt Darvas
Why we packed up our lives and moved to Nepal

Matt Darvis made the move to Nepal after seeing World Vision's work in the country. Now, he's giving others a chance to see his new home up close.

It’s been six months since my wife Brittany and I pulled the roller-door down on our storage shed in Newcastle filled with all of our worldly possessions and moved to Nepal. And still, every morning as we drink our coffee looking over the awe-inspiring Himalayas from our rooftop, I have to pinch myself as a reminder that, “this is real”. Whilst Britt rides off to perform her job as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for a local Nepali NGO, I spend my days coordinating World Vision Australia’s first ever Global One trips to Nepal that will soon start arriving here.

The Global One trips give people a chance to see World Vision’s work up close. I’m passionate about the opportunity they give to everyday Australians (perhaps even you?!), because it was on a trip to Nepal with World Vision four years ago that I met Sarita, a little girl who changed the course of my life forever.

I first met Sarita in 2009 when she was seven years old, and I was immediately drawn in by her mischievous grin that conveyed a sense of excitement and adventure. Sarita lived with her mother and 7 older brothers in a small village perched precariously high along the side of a deep and winding valley. The beautifully jagged snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas set the backdrop with the rushing waters of their melt running through the valley below. The awe-striking beauty of Nepal’s landscape is so immense that it can easily shroud the way families just like Sarita’s struggle daily to survive. It’s no wonder Nepal’s desperate living conditions are often described as “poverty in paradise”.

Here’s Sarita and I in her village:

Matt and Sharita, Nepal

When I first laid eyes on Sarita’s village, I couldn’t help but feel that if we had arrived 200 years ago, nothing before us would have looked out of place. There was no running water, electricity, mechanised farming or household equipment. The women still gathered on the soil-packed roofs to thresh out the wheat with long, smoothed sticks as they discussed the day’s gossip and news.

The situation of Sarita’s family typified the knife-edge that so many families in Nepal’s remote rural areas are living on. They had no land and zero assets, meaning they were forced to rely on the small amounts of paid-labour they could pick up from others.

When drought had destroyed a recent crop, the family was unable to find employment, forcing them into debt just to survive. This led Sarita’s father to set out for India in order to find work. I listened as Sarita’s mother told us with tears in her eyes, that he had become sick, potentially too sick to ever return home if he was to afford the medicine and the transportation required.

I spent the day with Sarita, and what struck me most was that despite the difficult circumstances, Sarita was just like any other little girl I’d met in Australia; cheeky, playful and filled with her own hopes and dreams when it came to her future and what she imagined it would be like. Sarita told me that when she grew up, she would be a nurse. “Why?” I asked her. “So that I can help all the other little children in my village,” she replied, with such self-assurance that you didn’t dare to think otherwise!

For me that was it. How could I go on living my life in Australia – which had been built on the opportunities I’d been lucky enough to be born into – knowing that children like Sarita, with such inspiring hopes and dreams for their communities and countries, might never be afforded the chance to realise their full potential.

And now Nepal is my home. I am privileged to live with my wife in this incredible country, to speak the language (ok I’m working on that one!) and to engage in real and deep relationships with its people.

I wonder what Nepal will mean to you? Why not come and find out this April?

Matt Darvas

Matt Darvas lives in Nepal with his wife Brittany who is also a development worker. Matt shares stories from their life in Nepal on his blog and you can follow him on Twitter here.


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