Wellies, a Shovel and True Grit in Christchurch, NZ

Dear Friends,

Many people have been asking after my daughter, Christine (affectionately referred to as Miss Tine in many posts). Your thoughts and kinds words have been sincerely appreciated by us both. Christine is still in Christchurch following the earthquake last week. We speak regularly and she is in my every thought. Her latest letter gives an indication of what she is experiencing at the moment. She is happy for me to share her thoughts these past few days.

"The damage is just indescribable...some people have lost everything and talking to them about it just breaks your heart. The whole city has suffered catastrophically.  The most amazing thing to me though is peoples attitudes about everything.....traveling out to homes which have no hope of being restored, the residents were still offering food and hospitality to all of us despite the fact that they are in the position to need it the most. 
A whole day of volunteering today- shoveling out silt which is pretty much muck with a very foul odor.... (result of liquefaction)
We had our two minutes of silence today to mark a week since it all happened and it just seemed fitting to stand there in gumboots with a shovel in hand. Life changing to say the least. 
I am going to put it out there and say that the probability of me getting a part-time job in the near future is rather slim in Christchurch. Definitely going to be a year of community work.  Thank your lucky stars that you live in a place which is not directly situated on a fault line!"

The last few sentences refer to her parents pressing her to find a part time job, as many of us do. It has been an ongoing discussion since she returned to Christchurch in January. I have to agree with her on this one. Community work it shall be and what an amazing job they are all doing.

The University of Canterbury has a Volunteer Student Army in place to assist with the recovery efforts.  Wheelbarrows, shovels and a strong pair of wellies are essential. Their activities range from digging silt out of properties, moving furniture from damaged houses and helping residents to clear up. A Christchurch Baking Army is underway as well. They mobilise kitchens around Christchurch to deliver baking to volunteers and organisations. 

I think of this as a case of 'true grit'
and in this case New Zealand grit.

Once again, Christine and I thank you all for your very kind words and comments.  It is very heartening to hear from friends :)

Jeanne xx

Original post: The Text Message

Images via  Anglotopia (top) and University of Canterbury  (bottom)

and over here....My One Weakness

and here...a Spanish Beauty


  1. Seems like the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Your Christine is obviously very much like you and your "can do" attitude. I can only imagine how worried you must have been for her when you first heard about the quake. God bless her. Meredy xo.

  2. Oh, my, Jeanne. You've raised one gorgeous girl there. How extraordinary. J x

  3. Heartening to see that wonderful community spirit in action. What is that silt stuff then?

    You must be very proud of your daughter (as well as worried!)

  4. Lisa..I added a link to liquefaction in the post. The silt is basically mud most likely mixed with sewage which is probably giving off the odour she mentions. That presents a whole other set of problems that we are going to have to keep an eye on. I have a feeling Christine will go down the baking route shortly!

  5. nothing is to hard when everybody helps!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    happy day!

  6. Dear Jeanne,
    while I was reading your post it comes all so close to me. It makes me feel like it`s just around the corner and it could happen to all of us so qickly...
    But I can also feel the strength, the will and the energy of people to help and rebuild whatever it takes. And this is a very good feeling...!All the best to you and your daughter! Beate :) XXX

  7. You know Jeanne, if there's one thing I remember from living in NZ, is that nothing can get the Kiwi's down. They always make the best of every situation with the most positive attitudes I've every come across. People just band together without questions asked and get on with it....
    Good luck to Christine and her fellow students - you're doing an amazing job!

  8. Ilse...you are so right, my sentiments exactly!

  9. And lucky Christine has a Mum like you there to support her. Wish I could be there myself :)

  10. What a beautiful and unselfish child! Those help the least among us gain the most. Prayers remain with all of you!

  11. You've raised an amazing girl Jeanne. Bless her and everyone lending a hand, keep them safe and healthy. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am moved beyond words.

  12. This will be a life-changing and life-affirming experience for her. You should be bursting with pride. So many would have wanted nothing more than to flee to more comfortable places and forget what they'd seen. I send her, and you, my admiration and love.

  13. IT says a lot about Christine that she has decided to stay in place and be part of the recovery effort.
    We were in Christchurch not too long ago, and it's hard to imagine the current devastation.

  14. Jeanne,

    How impressive!
    The student army mobilized to help is an amazing force...you must be very proud of your gal...and what a feel good experience for her to experience.

    That is really what community is all about...lending a hand to those in need.

  15. I have been thinking about you Jeanne, you must be mixed between feeling worried and incredibly proud of your brave and eloquent girl. She won't forget this experience, and neither will you.

  16. You must be so proud of her. She is doing a wonderful job.

  17. The student volunteers are doing an amazing job, and you should be so proud of what Christine is doing.

    From the students to the Baking Army and the Farmy Army ( farmers from Canterbury have all got together to help in the clean up) the response is incredible. Yesterday they had to contend with the wind whipping all that silt up and hindering clean ups and rescue/recovery.

    But we are a resilient lot us NZ'ers ( as you are well aware) and we will get the job done no matter how long it takes.

  18. Ante tanta preocupación y tristeza por los hechos ocurridos en tu tierra, te mando un beso grande, Gloria.

  19. Jeanne that was such an inspiring post. Our thoughts and prayers are all around your daughter and all the people of Christchurch at this moment in time!

  20. Jeanne - the Volunteer Student Army is doing a magnificent job. It is incredibly heartening.

    The students, the Rangiora Earthquake Express and the Farmy Army in particular, are absolute inspirations. (Of course there are many other groups and individuals too.)

    You can be incredibly proud of your daughter and the students at UC for the enormous difference they are making. xx

  21. Dear Jeanne, it's dreadful what's happened. What a wonderful daughter you have xx

  22. Many hands makes a light load! Good for Christine to get involved in her new community.

  23. wow - amazing to see images of the aftermath of the quake. you must be so proud of your daughter.

  24. Christine sounds like an amazing young lady! She has spunk, drive, and a work ethic beyond her years but best of all...she has compassion and a heart to help humanity. That is a fabulous combination in any person. I'm sure you are wonderfully proud of her!!
    Good luck and prayers go with her as she continues this journey...it will stay with her lifelong. And don't worry, Mom, she'll have no problem with a job when she need one!!!

  25. How much richer your girl will be after volunteering for a year. The part time work that may have provided money couldn't possibly compare to that! Hooray for Christine and bravo to you for your continued support, love and great example Jeanne :)

  26. Imagine all the lessons your Christine will take into her life from this amazing experience. So glad she is safe. Your mom heart must be so proud and very much wanting to be able to hug her in person.

    She is a great wordsmith, as well.


  27. Oh, Jeanne...this is incredible. My thoughts and prayers go with you and you ever-so-wonderful girl!

  28. Dear Jeanne - have only just caught up with your posts about Christchurch - your daughter is doing an amazing job; what a special girl you have raised - her willingness to don wellies and take up a shovel combined with the compassion she obviously has in her heart is a rare thing. This will be one life changing experience you will both carry with you forever - sending you and Christine my very best wishes and heartfelt admiration - you must be a very proud Mum xxx

  29. Hi all...trying to catch up with the comments, I am a bit behind. Thank you for your very kind thoughts and wishes...yes, I am proud of Christine but admit it is set in anxiety too. Trying to keep it all in perspective...as you do. My son called the other day to tell me about his training exercises at the Royal Military College he attends. He was bursting with enthusiasm and pride.

    I have a son talking about his training to go into battle some day and a daughter cleaning up and living thru what looks like a war zone in Christchurch.

    My youngest son dressed up for World Book week today. He had to choose a character and wouldn't you know it was the story of a young boy and his heroism in WWII... Luckily my other daughter decided to just go as herself :)

    Taking lots of deep breaths!

  30. bless you both. thanks for keeping it real. {has she registered with Smartraveller though? from what i hear it can really make a difference if the need arises. blame me for nagging!} thinking of you. deb

  31. Thanks for reminding me Deborah...I will ask her :)
    I have been sending your comments to her..

  32. I am so glad to hear Christine is fine. I have been wondering on how she's holding up. And I love her attitude. She is truly your daughter.


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