Otago Daily Times

For­ti­tude after fire put down to hav­ing lived in a ‘war city’

- JOHN LEWIS john.lewis@odt.co.nz Society · Incidents · Wellington, New Zealand · Dunedin · Oban

THE only good thing about liv­ing in a war­torn coun­try is that it teaches you to be re­silient, Ghu­soun Fash­wel says.

‘‘We used to live in a war city — shoot­ing, bomb­ing, kid­nap­ping ev­ery day.’’

So when the Syr­ian mother of four re­turned from a seven­minute visit to the su­per­mar­ket on Mon­day night to find her Mos­giel house on fire, she was just re­lieved her fam­ily was not in­side.

Liv­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment with death and de­struc­tion all around had made them stronger and more adapt­able, she said.

The fire was be­lieved to have started on or near an oven in the kitchen, and spread to the range hood.

Within min­utes, it had en­gulfed much of the wooden house, de­stroy­ing all but the clothes on their backs, she said.

‘‘We are not sorry for any­thing we have lost, but we are very sorry for the house.’’

She said they had been in the Oban St house for about two years, and her hus­band Walid was par­tic­u­larly up­set be­cause he had spent much of his spare time paint­ing and ren­o­vat­ing to make the Kainga Ora house their ‘‘home’’.

The fam­ily said they were still quite shocked by the or­deal yes­ter­day.

El­dest daugh­ter Farah (23) said she was up­set with fire­fight­ers at the scene be­cause she was watch­ing all the hard work they had done to build a new life, go up in smoke.

‘‘I went to the fire­man and I pushed him down and I told him if you don’t start to get the water in, I will get it and I will wet it my­self.’’

She be­lieved they were slow to ar­rive.

How­ever, she had since come to un­der­stand the Mos­giel Fire Sta­tion was manned by vol­un­teers at night, and it took longer for fire­fight­ers to at­tend.

The day was dou­bly dis­tress­ing for the fam­ily be­cause Mrs Fash­wel’s mother died ear­lier in the day.

Mrs Fash­wel said while re­build­ing their lives would be dif­fi­cult, it was be­ing made eas­ier by the over­whelm­ing sup­port of the com­mu­nity.

She was tear­ful when she said neigh­bours had been emo­tion­ally very sup­port­ive, pro­vid­ing food and cloth­ing, and peo­ple from as far away as Auck­land had called to of­fer help.

‘‘I want to thank ev­ery­body who give us sup­port. I ap­pre­ci­ate what fire­men did for us.

‘‘I thank ev­ery Kiwi peo­ple, even in Auck­land and Welling­ton, who have asked about our con­di­tion.’’

The fam­ily is stay­ing at a Dunedin mo­tel at the mo­ment, and it was hoped they could be in a new house within the next month.

 ?? PHOTO: GER­ARD O’BRIEN ?? Mov­ing for­ward . . . Fash­wel fam­ily mem­bers (from left) Anas (10), Ab­del Karim (16) and their father Walid are put­ting on brave faces and get­ting on with re­build­ing their lives, after their fam­ily home burnt down in Mos­giel ear­lier this week.
PHOTO: GER­ARD O’BRIEN Mov­ing for­ward . . . Fash­wel fam­ily mem­bers (from left) Anas (10), Ab­del Karim (16) and their father Walid are put­ting on brave faces and get­ting on with re­build­ing their lives, after their fam­ily home burnt down in Mos­giel ear­lier this week.

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