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“Growing up in a refugee camp in Nepal meant that we were deprived of some of the most basic human survival needs. I had no rights to work. I just had this dream of becoming an accountant one day,” says Bhutanese refugee Diwash Bhattarai CA.
Diwash’s young life was framed by challenges, but he remained steadfast in his focus on overcoming them and chasing his dreams.
“The one thing that kept everyone going was the strong sense of community, and the desire of our parents to give their kids a good start through education,” says Diwash.
“All of the friends that I made at the school in the refugee camp had dreams. We didn’t think that growing up in a refugee camp meant we couldn’t achieve them one day.”
Diwash completed grade 9 in Nepal and then travelled to New Zealand with his mother and older sisters through a UN resettlement program. He joined Christchurch’s Hagley Community College to continue his education.
“My family and I had never heard of New Zealand before we moved here. We were given a choice of where to go, but it was my mum who asked the officers to take our family wherever they had a good education and welfare system,” says Diwash.
“For me it’s also vital to give back to the Christchurch community who welcomed me so wholeheartedly years ago. I want to fulfill my purpose by making a difference in what is now my community.”
"It was so exciting when I was able to finally attend a high school, and then the University of Canterbury to complete a Bachelor's degree in Accounting - a career path that I have never second guessed,” says Diwash.
Diwash undertook an additional year of tertiary study to gain a postgraduate diploma in Finance and Economics, before joining the workforce.
“After university I worked for the Ministry of Social Development for a few months before joining PKF Goldsmith Fox - where I am at currently. I cannot express how much I absolutely love working here - learning all about how accounting works in practice is a dream,” says Diwash.
Diwash feels strongly that his purpose is to make a difference within the Christchurch community.
“I joined the workforce as a graduate shortly after the Christchurch earthquake disaster in New Zealand. A lot of businesses were trying to pick themselves back up to start again, and I believed that my role as an accountant was to help them get back on their feet,” says Diwash.
“A lot of businesses are - even now - still trying to figure out how to move forward. For me it’s also vital to give back to the Christchurch community who welcomed me so wholeheartedly years ago. I want to fulfill my purpose by making a difference in what is now my community.”
Diwash has overcome many dimensions of adversity in life already - the challenges of being a displaced person, settling in an entirely foreign country and learning about a new society and language - all while staying committed to his learning journey.
Reflecting on his path so far, Diwash’s advice for students contemplating a career in business or just wondering how to get where they want to go in life, is to believe that no obstacle is insurmountable.
“I kept my goal in my sight and continued to remind myself that dreams are possible and they can come true. Self-belief is the key. ” says Diwash.
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