15 March 2024

Is this the place we used to love? Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?

 Today, the 15th of March, marks the 5th anniversary of the Christchurch terror attacks.

New Zealand is as isolated as you can get geographically. A group of small islands relatively inconspicuous that it's sometimes mistaken as part of Australia, or even accidentally omitted in world maps. Being physically far from everyone else, one would have thought that this country would be spared from any acts of terrorism. That changed on this day five years ago.

When we were alerted of an 'active shooter event' happening at Christchurch, it didn't sink in immediately. Then we turned on the TV and saw the tragedy unfold. It was, personally speaking, unbelievable.

We have always thought of New Zealand to be a safe place to live. A great environment to raise a family and get that sought-after work-life balance. This terror attack shattered that perception. One can never be truly safe anywhere. In the days following the attack, we heard of people planning to leave the country altogether. It reminded me of the time we had a catastropic earthquake in the 90s in my hometown. People fled the city and never returned, even when things settled down. I guess trauma can make you do that.

We decided to migrate to New Zealand because we heard that racism is not rife here. I've always been worried about my kids experiencing hate crimes, or bullying in schools. Much of my fears were quelled when I saw how culturally diverse the schools are, and (during those times) people actually leave their houses and cars unlocked!

Are we staying put? Yes. Do we still feel safe? Relatively yes. That is, compared to a past life where, at the back of your mind, you try to be aware of what's happening around you and always keep your backpack slung across your chest, we feel safer here.

But if there's one thing I learned from this, it's that evil can rear its ugly head no matter the circumstance. And we should not let evil reign. Don't let it control us. Otherwise their 'terror' agenda would prevail.

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