Christchurch and its surrounds have been through a great deal since the original September the 4th earthquake. I will always be reminded of it because it is my birthday.
I shall put that aside and examine what has happened since. It will be many years before Christchurch rises from the rubble, and a huge amount of effort to heal the psychological wounds of the inhabitants of this beautiful southern city, especially for the young children.
We have many heroes to thank as the task of rebuilding lives and buildings begins in earnest. Anonymous passers-by and police and rescue workers come to mind; the medics who attended those injured and the churches for their spiritual support, along with the many volunteers who came from afar and those locally.
There is one group of professionals, who had to put aside their own fears and doubts, rising to the occasion because their charges were in dire need of support. I mean of course the hundreds of teachers in Christchurch. At a time when they too were victims, they struggled to provide a semblance of normality when their own homes had often been damaged, and their families may have suffered though death and injury.
As soon as it was possible, these teachers returned to work and coped with the psychological damage caused by the earthquakes. Yes, some left Christchurch, but the vast majority knuckled down and contributed much. That held their communities together. Day after day, they faced children traumatised by the quakes and suffered with their students as many thousands of aftershocks reminded them on a daily basis that nature was not yet finished.
We must to look at what the teachers and the other heroes of Christchurch need now, that Mother Earth seems to be settling. There will be continuing long lasting damage done to the psyches of the children and adults of this city; it will keep playing out in the behaviours of the survivors.
Christchurch has changed forever, and we must not forget that their struggles have simply changed from the initial task of ‘living,’ to planning their futures. As their city is being rebuilt around them, we should look to restoring their resilience and faith in their city and their collective pathways.
I acknowledge my fellow teachers. Now that the Government is providing resources and support for the rebuild, we must also be wary of ‘Trojan horses,’ whereby cynical politics may well be the driving force, to be sneaked in under the radar on an unsuspecting public. Those of us outside Christchurch will lend our support to make sure that this does not happen.
We are still with you Christchurch. www.authorneilcoleman.com