In June 2015 an earthquake, with its epicentre beneath Mt Kinabalu, struck Sabah, killing 18 people on the mountain and damaging or destroying a number of homes, including ten belonging to the Dusun trekking guides in Kampong Kiau, a village high on Kinabalu’s slopes. The quake was followed by torrential rain, triggering devastating mudslides.
Lynette was with a trekking party and experienced the full effect of the earthquake at Kundasang War Memorial, which was also extensively damaged. With no financial help forthcoming locally, and so many people in Kiau in need, when Lynette and her husband returned to Australia they established a special earthquake fund. Australians interested in the Sandakan POW story were reminded that, in 1945, it was the Dusun people who risked their lives to help prisoners of war and who sheltered those who managed to escape. Many people rallied to the cause, sending in donations and attending a fund raising dinner.
Sufficient money was raised to provide the materials for the villagers to rebuild or repair their homes, this time hopefully to a standard to withstand any future quakes. Many people pitched in to help – even the village children, who carried bricks up the steep village paths.
Leftover funds from the appeal were used to extend the school bus shelter and construct a modern, tiled toilet block for the convenience of children waiting for the bus. To acknowledge the generosity of the donors, this facility has been officially named ’The Dunny’ – a slang term in Australia for ‘outhouse’.
As a moral booster after the devastating earthquake, the misery of which was exacerbated by cold, rainy weather, Lynette’s supporters also formed an informal knitting group to provide the children with beautifully crafted jumpers, scarves, hats, baby clothes and blankets. These gifts proved to be so popular that many hundreds of items have now been knitted for the village.