Hello there Knight Life readers and welcome back to Everyday Heroes! I must say, I am having so much fun doing these interviews, and taking the chance to pick the brains of the people I love is definitely being a highlight of my blog this year! So, without further delay, I introduce to you my third Everyday Hero: Rayali! Oh gosh, what can I say about Rayali… Welcoming, comforting, like a warm ray of sunshine? I’ll now let her interview speak for herself, but I just wanted to say how thankful I am for all the love, and I am so excited for you to read Part One of this particular interview. To read the other interviews that I’ve done for this segment, just hover over Blog Regulars on the menu panel, and click on ‘Everyday Heroes’!
Alright, so the first question is a bit of a big one, so feel free to answer it however you want. So; who is Rayali?
Whoa! [Laughs] Well, my name means doe-eyed, so ‘eyes of a deer’, it’s actually an Iranian Princesses’ name. Basically the story was that this Princess had the most beautiful eyes in the entire empire and they were mesmerising and innocent like the eyes of a deer.
To be honest, I’ve never even thought about it before. But I would say that Rayali is like a layered cake. There are lots and lots of layers. So when you first take a bite of the cake, you [of course] can taste the icing on top. Rayali is the icing on top; she is the sweet, fun, bubbly and happy person. Who, at first glance, you could not possibly know that there are hundreds of other layers to her too. So after the first bite, you keep eating the cake, and you can taste the hard crust on the outside, which you can feel melting softly into your mouth, and that layer [even though it shows that she is a strong and independent person] it also lets you know that she has weaknesses, and she also has faults. Just like any other person!
Just out of curiosity: what flavoured cake are you?!
I would say I’m a black forest cake! So finally, you reach a layer that is fondant, and you realize that there is so much more to this girl than just the icing on top. She has stories and adventures that she would love to tell friends and strangers. She has aspirations, dreams and [then] you realize that Rayali is someone who can’t be defined by just one word or with one sentence.
Delicious! Haha, so my next question is; when did your passion for environmental sustainability begin?
My passion for environmental sustainability begun when I was about twelve years old. I went to a temple in the outskirts of a city in India called Calcutta. As I was coming back from the temple, there were acres upon acres of farming land, so we decided to stop by a village and have a chat to the locals who lived there. I hopped out of the car and the first thing I saw that surprised me was that this village consisted of huts made out of mud and straw. There were children running around about with the minimal amount of clothing. Y’know, it was a village where they didn’t have many possessions but everyone was smiling even though they had so little. Naturally, I was really curious as I was only twelve. I had lots of questions, like ‘Why is it that my life in Australia; I can get everything I want even if I don’t need it?’ ‘Why is it that the only way this community can survive is if they produce crops on their farm?’ I always believed that they deserved so much more.
I decided to talk to one of the farmers with the hope that he could answer my questions. I began by asking him ‘How do you survive?’ And he said ‘It all depends on how much crops we produce and if we have had any loss in crops due to pests or disease,’ [and he revealed to me that] ‘Actually, in the last year we’ve been going through drought, and global warming, so now we can only produce certain crops only at certain times of the year so actually most of the time I actually struggle to keep my family alive.’
[He went on to say] ‘Even though we pretty much have nothing to us, that piece of land that we have is everything, it is our source of life.’ And from that moment I decided it was my life’s mission to make sure that when I grow up, I would study something or be working in a field where I could travel to all parts of the world and provide technology, education, tools and support so that farmers like these can sustain themselves, their families and contribute to global sustainability with the education they receive. In the next week I am about to go to South India. I am travelling to Bangalore and Mysore where everything related to agriculture/agricultural sustainability is done by hand. Just to give you an idea about what I mean; anything related with the land, like seed planting, spraying of pesticides and weeding is done by hand. It’s extremely laborious work and women dominate much of the workforce. I will be learning about their agricultural practices, nutritional status of women in this sector and how I will also be providing my own ideas to farmers about how they can gain more yield and sustain crops through drought or disease. So I guess that’s where it all started, when I experienced firsthand what it felt like to have nothing.
And have you gone back to meet that farmer again?
No I haven’t, I haven’t a chance.
Do you think that when you’ve graduated and you’re successful and established in this field that you’ll go over with the right tools and help him?
Of course! I’m going back to Calcutta but this time for four weeks, so I’m hoping to go back to see him. Previous times I’ve gone I haven’t had the chance to. But I want to go back and I want to tell him that this is what I’m doing and I’m so excited to travel the world one day and make a change.
Now this question is a bit of a big one; what is the greatest struggle that you’ve had to overcome in your life that you want to speak about?
[Pauses] I have so many, one of them wasn’t exactly my struggle. I guess coming here my parents who only had two hundred dollars in their pocket to start off with, but that was more their struggle. But in terms of what I’ve struggled with in life: It has been to stay alive. I can remember since I was about twelve, I went through a lot of bullying and harassment and that led to me believing that I could never be anyone in life. Because I constantly had people telling me that ‘You’re not going to get anywhere,’ ‘You’re not worth anything,’ so I guess the greatest struggle of mine has derived from all of that: has being to stay alive. There has been so many times where I have thought that death would always solve my problems. Because no one would miss me, no one would care if I was non-existent. Because if I was already no one, it wouldn’t have really mattered if I died.
So how do you feel about that, looking at it now?
Looking back at it now I’m so glad that it was actually ironically a priest who saved my life. One day on the school bus an incident took place where I was bullied, and that was when I told myself that I had enough. So I got off the school bus and I went to lie down in the middle of the road. This particular road was in the country, where cars usually travelled at about one twenty [120 kilometres]. I remember lying down on the road and [I remember thinking] ‘I’m ready to go, I don’t want to live anymore.’ Whilst I was submerged in my dark thoughts, I heard a car creeping closer and even in that moment it was one of darkness, there was a part of me that wished and hoped that someone would save me. Finally when the car stopped I noticed the man who got out was a priest. He totally took me by surprise because I thought that he would run me over, and not see me, because he was driving so fast. Anyway, he told me one thing that has stuck with me forever. He said “I hope that one day that you fall in love with being alive,” and that is exactly what has happened to me now. If there is anything that I have fallen in love with; it is the fact that I can breathe fresh air, I can feel the droplets of rain when I go out, and I can feel the warmth of the sunshine.
It was life changing, and I still have my days when I struggle to get out of bed, and to believe in anything, because after years and years of people bullying you, it gets to you! But what I realized that the power that those people had over me was nothing compared to the power of my mind. Your mind is so powerful, and if you choose to overcome a struggle; that is your choice only and that is how I overcame my struggle.
* Rayali is a free-spirit, who lives in the moment and embraces everything that life has to offer. She is a 20-year-old University student studying a double degree in Agriculture and Business and cannot wait to travel and make a difference in the agricultural/environmental sector worldwide. She loves to boogie, sing her heart out and is usually in a state of trance when listening to her favourite songs.
* Rayali’s story continues on The Knight Life this Thursday [02/APR/15].
* Rayali has chosen that if this part of the interview would have a soundtrack, it would be ‘Any Other Name,’ By Thomas Newman, which can listen to here, [sidebar] this is a stunning piece of music! I urge you to check it out!
* Here is a photo of the delicious coffee that Rayali and I shared on the day of our interview, it was at a corner cafe at Chadstone called Cibo:
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