It’s been a terrible week for my beloved New Zealand, with Christchurch, one of our biggest cities, being virtually destroyed by an earthquake. At present there are 145 confirmed deaths, at least 200 people still missing, and destruction everywhere. It’s heart-breaking stuff. This is likely to be the worst disaster ever to befall the country. I am very thankful to report that my family and friends are all in the north island and are not directly affected. It also sounds as though my friends with Christchurch connections have been fortunate enough to not lose anybody (although some of their families have lost their houses).
I know that people in New Zealand are being subjected to saturation coverage regarding the earthquake, but in the UK this story has already fallen off the front page of the newspapers. This is, of course, completely understandable – this certainly isn’t the worst natural disaster to strike the earth this year, or probably even this month, and the situation in Libya is rightly dominating the press – but it’s so hard to be away from home at a time like this and realise that the things that are more important to you than almost everything else are just passing news items for most of the world. Thank God for the internet and easy access to updates from back home. It’s not that I don’t care about other things that are going on in the world, but there’s really only one story that I care about at the moment.
Having said that, it has been amazing to see the strength of good feeling for New Zealand from nearly all places in the world, with practical help and support being provided and endless sympathy extended. It seems that, in the UK at least, the commonwealth still means something and there are few people that have forgotten the ties that have always bound our two countries together, demonstrated by the give and take of help as each country needs it. And I am always so proud of my country in times of adversity. I know, without doubt, that people in New Zealand will continue to bind together and support those who need it, ensuring that Christchurch can rise again from the rubble. But it’s so hard to think of the suffering and grief being experienced by my fellow Kiwis. Emily Perkins, one of my favourite NZ authors, expresses it really well here. Like her, I’m thinking about this disaster and its victims every day. I’m having nightmares about being stuck in earthquakes (very unusual for me). It’s just so shocking to picture my country brought low in this way.
This site is a good source of information for people who might like to make a donation towards the relief fund.