Disaster strengthens family bonds
WHEN Jenny Christie learned that a magnitude earthquake had hit Nepal, her heart sank.
"My daughter and her husband were trekking through Nepal when it struck; it was terrifying,” she said.
"We got this one text on the first day it happened, saying they were okay, then nothing after that; we didn't hear from them again,” she said.
The 2015 earthquake, also called Gorkha earthquake, killed 9000 people and injured more than 20,000.
Fortunately, her daughter Mel and husband Matt managed to seek refuge in a village until they could find a way back to Kathmandu. They were later able to call from a villager's phone to let everyone know they were okay.
"They actually didn't want to leave,” Mrs Christie said.
"They wanted to stay and help.”
This act of selflessness inspired a second trip - but not for her daughter.
"In October last year, my husband and I trekked the same trail as our daughter and her husband,” she said.
Rather than join a tourist group, Mrs Christie said they chose two guides to make the experience more personal, including a visit with the family who took in Mel and Matt during the earthquake.
"It was wonderful because they didn't know we were coming,” Mrs Christie said.
"When we showed up they instantly knew who we were.”
Mrs Christie and her husband presented the young family with a collection of gifts from Mel and Matt including a solar charger and a heartfelt letter.
"They were so lovely and appreciative of the gifts and thrilled Mel was still thinking of them.”
Mrs Christie said they also made a conscious effort to support local business in Nepal.
"The economy is still struggling from the earthquake, so we bought our beanies and other gear once we got to Kathmandu,” she said.
"We even booked with Discovery World Tours because they donate a lot of the funds to the Nepalese villages, the schools and so on.”
Mrs Christie said they were later given the opportunity to hang a prayer flag in the Buddhist town of Upper Pisang.
"We hung those up for my daughter and the family,” she said.
"It was a very emotional trek, but something that will be treasured forever.”