Real Treasure of Christchurch
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit 10km south-east of Christchurch CBD at 12:51, February 22, 2011. Massive number of buildings collapsed including the city icon Christchurch Cathedral Steeple, and so many people were dead, injured, trapped and lost their properties.
Watching the rescue operations in utterly changed Garden City on TV, I live at my home about 300km away from there, packing lunch for children, doing the laundry, weeding and watering the garden, laughing at my hubbie's jokes and cooking meals for my family, everything is normal here. It's unbelievable that the both scenes exist here in this New Zealand South Island right now, and it crushes my spirit out, sometimes it's hard to keep back my tears.
I was worried about a person, who was my old colleague in Japan.
At the beginning of January, a friend of mine in Japan told me that Tonton would make a business trip to Christchurch in mid Feb. I advised Tonton that they still had aftershocks almost everyday in Christchurch since last September and she had to be very careful. She replied to me that she didn't even know about the quake in September and appreciated the info.
Oh, no, can't be... She was there MID Feb, so she might have already been back to Japan, hopefully.
But on the following day of the quake, I got an email from her, saying,
"It was my day one of the business yesterday and encountered the disaster. I'm fine but an evacuee."
"I stay with a very nice host family about half an hour drive from the city centre, so please don't worry."
I asked her if she'd got her passport, wallet etc and we exchanged some emails, and I found out how her host family was nice and kind to her.
This was her first visit to New Zealand, and was meant to be a very short business trip for the sales promotion of books and magazines at the conference of some kind, so she shouldn't have been doing the home stay or something like that. Therefore "a nice and kind host family" meant nothing other than a volunteer host family to accept evacuees, I guessed. So I asked her to let me know the whole story.
She was working at the exhibition stall for the medical conference in the Convention Centre by the Town Hall when the quake hit. Everyone evacuated from the building after the first shock (@13:00).
She waited for about an hour with a hope of coming back into the building again but found that it was not a good idea and started to move to southwest looking for a safer place (@14:00). Stayed in the park in front of the hotel "Chateau Blanc Suites" for an hour and had some big aftershocks (@15:00).
When the aftershocks seemed to settle down, she tried to go back to the hotel she stayed near the Cathedral, but the road to the city centre was already completely blocked. Unfortunately she left her passport and some valuables in there. She wandered around for an hour looking for the way to the hotel, in vain (@16:00).
Then she was told to go to the Welfare Centre in Hagley Park.
She arrived at Hagley Park Welfare Centre at 17:00. Salvation Army provided old clothes and a big black plastic bag (it was quite windy and cold) and had a rest on a bench and a plywood outside. It started raining and got dark, so she came inside (presumebly of the big tent for the Flower Show) and NZ Red Cross registered her in the evacuee list (@22:00).
It took about 9 hours to get registered since the quake. TV news said there were about 2,000 people stayed over night at Hagley Park. Tonton was one of them.
Meal was provided. She had room only enough to lie down. She stayed there for a while with some other Japanese people she met there at the Welfare Centre. Suddenly a gentleman and his daughter came across to them and offered "We can take care of 11 people at our place".
They were not the only one but Tonton saw many other people coming to the Centre and taking evacuees to their own homes. They were pure volunteers.
Wow, taking 11 foreigners (or even total strangers) who might not even understand English..., that's brave.
I guess they came with 2 cars, one would be a mini van or something with seating capascity of 8 and another would be a normal car with capacity of 5, and took as many evacuees as they could carry.
Tonton jumped on their car with 5 other Japanese and 5 backpackers (nationality unknown) after midnight.
They were a family of 5, parents and 3 children, living in Rangiora. Elderest daughter in high teens was the one who had come to the Centre with her father, and there were 2 other little ones, 4 & 5 year-old.
This voluntary host family bought necessities for 11 evacuees, provided clothes and did the laundry for them, let them take a shower, offered NZ traditional meals, took them out for lunch, rent DVDs for them, let them use their own PC, contacted with their original host family if they had, arranged the air tickets for them, dropped off them at the airport etc...
They kept assuring them "No worries, mate. Let us know anything we could help. You can stay here until you are ready to move on."
Tonton is supposed to fly to Auckland today (26/02/2011), get a temporary passport from the Japanese Consular Office and leave to Japan. She must have cried saying thank you millions times to the host family.
It was so depressing to see the power of the nature which had ripped off the beauty of Christchurch and grabbed away lots of life, and I realized how feeble we were. However the disaster created such incredibly kind and warm host families as well as the destruction.
This story reminds me how beautiful and great people's soul is. The real treasure of Christchurch is shining even more right now during this difficult time.
Today it was annouced that a third of the buildings in CBD and a forth of them in the city had to be demolished. Christchurch has about 10% of population of whole NZ's, which is an equivalent rate to Tokyo's to Japan. Can you imagine how much damage New Zealand got from this disaster?
However, thousands of Kiwi volunteers are helping out people in trouble, possibly travelers from your country, with friendly smiles on their faces.
I'd like to ask you to support these lovely Kiwis by donations. Thank you very much in advance.
And thank you for your report during your hard time, Tonton.
【Links to Donation Sites】
- Home Weed Home エルダー・フラワー・シャンペン
- Home Weed Home たんぽぽのお酒
- ラグビー・ワールド・カップ 正しい（？）ラグビー観戦の致し方
- クライストチャーチ 本当の美しさ
- Home Weed Home さようなら 丑の刻参り
- 高橋家大改造計画 Stage6：アイちゃん vs ゾンビ
- Home Weed Home 春が来ちゃったのね
- Home Weed Home 春が来た！
- 高橋家大改造計画 Stage5：ケンちゃん
- 高橋家大改造計画 Stage4：夕方からの時間割
- コレステ様 参る 其の弐
- 高橋家大改造計画 Stage3: 意識改革
- 高橋家大改造計画 Stage2:メルト・ダウン
- 子どもとあそぶ #1フェイス・ペインティング
- 高橋家大改造計画 Stage1:コントンとコンパイの日々
- 血ィ～にやさしい時代エッセー？「コレステ様、参る 其の壱」
- Home Weed Home エルダー・フラワー・シャンペン（2012年2月16日）
- Home Weed Home たんぽぽのお酒 （2011年11月23日）
- ラグビー・ワールド・カップ 正しい（？）ラグビー観戦の致し方 （2011年9月15日）
- コレステ様、あべし！！ （2011年7月 1日）