The Hong Kong garment industry seems a world away from the Himalayas, but for Margreeth and her son Tim it is familiar territory.
“We have always taken our holidays in what my friends think are remote places – Ley, the Zanskar Valley, Bhutan, Kashmir – and of course Nepal” Margreeth told us.
“We are both students of Phakchok Rinpoche. Tim met Rinpoche when he was just seven years old and a small boy. He has spent time with him every year since then.”
Tim is now a six-foot tall teenager. Last Friday morning he was sitting one of his French GCSE papers at school in Hong Kong. By evening he and Margreeth had landed in Kathmandu, Nepal, with a very special delivery – $13,400 US dollars and long range walkie-talkies for the CGLF relief team.
“As soon as we heard about the earthquake I began to contact everyone I know; friends, my old employers and colleagues, everyone I have come across in twenty two years of business travels, fabric suppliers, other parents from school. I am not on Facebook or any other social media so I sent an email telling the story of what happened and giving people the Paypal and CGLF account information – and my own details. I promised that every dollar would go directly to the people in Nepal that need it most. People were happy to give to someone they know personally; some gave a lot and some gave only a little but it soon adds up. There was a collection in my office and everyone gave something from $5 to much, much, more”.
“People of every different spiritual background gave, knowing they could really trust that is was wholly for disaster relief.”
First thing on Saturday morning Margreeth and Tim set off for Champi to help with distribution.
“It was so sad to see how some people had not received help because of their caste. I felt it was beyond brutal.There were thirty families sharing rooms in the old school – but there was no fighting at all, even sharing that really small space.
“We then went to a second village further up the hill. We could only stay a short time as it was really windy and very dark. But people were really welcoming and friendly and came across as having a real sense of hope. We got home really late – the car broke down and we had to wait for a replacement to continue the journey.”
“The next day, before leaving Nepal, we managed to reach a village two hours from Kathmandu. The people there were still in shock – it was as if they couldn’t even see us. There was no joy at seeing the truck, no tears even, just shock.
“It really came home to me when I saw a single staircase sticking up from a pile of rubble; everything else had disappeared…. Loading up the pictures from that day was a really moving experience for me. ”
“We arrived back in Hong Kong on Monday morning in the monsoon. I can’t help thinking about the sheer misery of being in a monsoon without a proper roof over your head.”
And Margreeth’s message?
“You might think that as a single mother and a child there is not much you can do – but you can! You can reach out to all those people you know and make it possible for them to share in this amazing effort to help others.”