Life on the other side of the world in New Zealand is quietly perfect. New Zealanders read their newspapers and watch their TV news broadcasts of shattering international events. Tsunamis in Asia, civil wars through the Middle East, raging fires and floods in Australia. We read of airplane and train crashes in all continents and in our peaceful towns our hearts go out to all those who suffer through these terrible events.
Things changed for us though one year ago on 22 February 2011. The Christchurch earthquakes which claimed so many lives have continued over the last year to tease and stress the citizens. Like a drunken monster the earthquakes refuse to give us a break.
Families live in tents. Professional businessmen live in caravans. Businesses have been lost as 80% of central city buildings are demolished. For the rare few, like myself, our homes have been returned to normal, even though this doesn’t really seem fair to the others.
There are heroes everywhere around me. People who dug strangers out of the rubble, strangers who baked for us, volunteers who helped anyone but themselves. Around me are people, friends, who have survived the most extraordinary natural disaster you can imagine – but here a disaster that doesn’t go away, that doesn’t move off to another victim on the other side of the world. Who knows the next terrifying earthquake could be at the end of this sentence.
Even though I sit here with a heavy heart full of invisible tears, I see superb examples of the strength of the human spirit, a strength that just doesn’t give up, a strength that keeps looking to the future. We all know that this scene from a terror movie will come to an end, and we have this feeling that the bright light at the end of it all will keep our hopes alive. Even though residents are living amidst such utter sadness we must celebrate Christchurch and its citizens and their example of strength and commitment, and if you could give a moment to think of Christchurch on this day, this will help us all!
Photo Essay Christchurch Earthquakes: (with thanks to Elise Rutherford and Alexander Reese, and Matador Life)