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Neil was one of three men killed in the Durham St Methodist Church when his scaffolding collapsed while recovering an organ damaged by the September 2010 quake.
Marg, who has been part of the New Zealand Red Cross bereaved programme established following the quake, says a large part of the healing process came from being able to talk to others facing similar, sudden losses from such a high-profile, public disaster.
“The Red Cross has been absolutely wonderful. I’m so grateful that we have had that support and have been able to keep connected with Christchurch and the others who lost loved ones through the earthquake. We’re always going to have that bond and that connection.”
The other significant part of her journey forward came from focusing her energies on a charitable trust established following Neil’s passing.
The Forgotten Sherpas of Nepal Trust was set up by the Geraldine Tramping Club to provide humanitarian aid to the remote, impoverished Damar village in Nepal’s Middle Hills.
Marg first visited the village with Neil and the Geraldine Tramping Club in April 2010 - a three-day walk from the closest airstrip – to install solar lighting in the houses. The Stockers fell in love with the country and the people and planned to return, but the February 22 quake shattered those dreams.
However, Neil had made such a profound impact on the Nepalese village that when Marg next visited late in 2011, the villagers erected a chorten (a Buddhist monument) and had it blessed by lamas.
“I was extremely humbled by that,” she states. “I felt the need to go back to Damar and connect as part of my healing process, and the love, care and compassion I felt from the villagers was overwhelming. The next year I returned and placed some of Neil’s personal belongings inside the chorten. I feel quite spiritually connected to the place now.”
As well as the installation of solar lighting for the village houses, the Forgotten Sherpas of Nepal Trust has provided and installed a clean water supply, clean-burning stoves and chimneys for the houses, Red Cross first aid kits, supplies for the region’s school and mobile health clinics in four villages offering medical and dental services for the first time to 2,500 people living in 25 surrounding villages.
“Even though we’ve had our own journeys and losses, we’re blessed to live in a country that looks after us. Life has changed so much for all of us affected by loss after the earthquake, but it breaks my heart to think these remote villagers don’t have those support networks.”
“The need is so great out there and what seems like peanuts to us can mean the absolute world to them. You can’t help the whole world but we can all do our bit. There’s nothing greater than to help fellow mankind and the less fortunate.”
To read more about the trust’s involvement in Nepal, visit www.forgottensherpas.org