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After travelling that distance herself, Del’s mother cried at the sight of her son. The cracks on his palms and hands made her emotional. Just a few years ago, Del had achieved the position of Regional manager in the Tea Plantation. A rank which was the result of his perseverance and persistence. He had attained a cozy living with financial security.
The fact that Del had left his affluent lifestyle back home to take up such laborious work in a distant land, baffled her. ‘You are looked after very well in the Tea industry’ stated Del. ‘We had – Gardeners, Servants, Cars, Health cover and even a Nanny’.
Given his background, his mother’s response was justified as she could not imagine the reason behind her son’s transformation, from a talented businessman to a wandering farmer.
‘Once we had our children, we were faced with a bitter reality – I would have to send my wife Thaan and our children to the city while I stay back at the plantation’ Del said.
‘We didn’t want to split up the family so we thought we might as well migrate. We had thought of three options then – UK, Canada or Australia’
With a little over $5000 in his pocket, driven by determination and dreams Del had ventured into this land seeking a better life for his children.
In 2009, Del arrived in Mandurah, South of Perth in Australia. He bought a car for $2000 and managed to get a job in Car detailing. After that, he filled his rented house with goods and furniture from a garage sale and a month later his family joined him.
After convincing his employers for a joint workload with his wife Thaan, he added her to his payroll. To further their bank balance, they opened their own detailing business discreetly.
‘We came to Australia for our children, so that they could get opportunities and space. But in Western Australia, we could not realize that goal’
To his surprise, Del could not throw away his agricultural roots, but owning a tea plantation was not much of a choice in this foreign land. While agriculture jobs were not sparse in Australia, a lengthy streak of job applications led to 40 rejections, however Del was not ready to give in.
Del’s fate turned when he applied for a Dairy Farming job in Cudgewa through an advertisement. Although he was unable to get that job, he managed keep contact with the farm owner Bill.
‘Bill and I started to chat and I ended up convincing him to give me a chance’ said Del.
‘So, we sold everything we had, put the car and ourselves on the Indian Pacific and headed to Victoria, all because Bill, a man I had never met had given me his word that he would give us a go’ he said.
‘We took a massive chance- but so did Bill – and as we travelled across the Nullarbor, I really started to worry about what I had done. I started to regret all our decisions and I was devastated at the fact that I had dragged my kids into this’
Time passed and it was October 2010.
‘It was a tough ride learning the ropes but I worked hard, completed courses and was motivated to learning more and more’
Not only Del but his family also threw themselves at the local community, trying to grasp the Australian way of life. What could be more Australian than Football or Footy as they called it, the family was involved instantly, they started hosting curry nights, took on community roles and even the children started to play.
‘We live in a first world country now and we needed to learn how the things worked, the Australian way of thinking and governance’ Del said.
‘We had to adapt and adjust but I think it is important to associate with people outside our own kin – or why would you move to a new country?’
Del and Thaan kept on putting in the hard work, and at the end of their time at Cudgewa, they had built a property portfolio with three rental homes. Such an amazing outcome of a family which had turned up in this Australian terrain with next to no money, assets or a clear future. The thing that kept them going on was – the Dream.
The next stop for Delpitiya family was Pyramid Hill, an even arcane place but it was where they sought the chance to turn their dream into reality. Until now, Del has managed a dairy farm consisting of 400 cows – a herd he and Thaan plan to buy. This is the first step to ownership and the Delpitiyas are well motivated to attain it within 5 odd years.
Such a cumbersome journey of this couple is nothing short of spectacular. While Thaan had been already in the teaching profession in Sri-Lanka, her qualifications were not recognized in Australia. So, she started learning here and is well onto completing a degree in teaching.
Del is exceptionally proud at being the only Sri-Lankan Dairy farmer in Australia and he deems it necessary for other migrants like him to see and comprehend the immense opportunities Australia has to offer in Agriculture. He believes that every migrant who intends to come here should try to absorb the Australian way if life rather than just outsourcing their farming backgrounds.
The family got their Australian citizenship back in 2015. While they claim to be established in Aussie culture and boast a remarkable grasp at the colloquial language – they want their children to retain their Sri-Lankan heritage.
‘We go back to Sri-Lanka once every two years, or the family comes out here’ Del said.
‘My family has opportunities, my boys have plenty of space and Thaan and I have taken up Horse riding.’ he said.
‘We have worked very hard and made our own luck’