The generosity of Taysiders has been demonstrated across the globe as a Dundee-born hostel owner in New Zealand helped out a Scottish backpacker who feared she had coronavirus.
Fiona Raeburn has been working and travelling through Australia for a number of months when she decided to visit New Zealand before the full extent of the coronavirus was known.
As the pandemic spread across the world she found herself developing cold-like symptoms in New Zealand and was unable to return to Australia, where she has a stable place to stay and a network of friends.
The Glaswegian was staying in the Flying Kiwi Hostel in Wanaka, ran by Dundee-born David Brown.
David managed to secure a Covid-19 test and set up a room especially for Fiona to self-isolate.
The test came back negative and she was able to return to Melbourne, where she has been predominately staying in Australia.
She said: “David set me up for self-isolation in the Scottish room, which was comforting and reminded me of home.
“He checked in on me every couple of hours to make sure I was alright, gave me food, asked if there was anything he could do.”
David, who grew up in Kirkton before travelling the world and eventually buying the hostel in February 2019, admitted the situation was “stressful” but helped Fiona as “she was in a foreign country and had no one”.
He said: “A number of strangers rescued me when I was younger in Dundee and I have never forgotten how it felt and what the profound impact was for my life even today.
“I hope to see Fiona again when we come home to see our families.”
David closed the hostel as lockdown measures were implemented in New Zealand. The country has been one of the most successful at handling the virus, but David said it has still come at a cost.
They are planning on rebranding the hostel as Wanaka Backpackers Brothy.
He added: “The lockdown has been brutal here.
“I have kept all of my staff and still pay them as they are also backpackers with no support so I am effectively the family support for them.
“The real issue we have is tourism as Wanaka is such an amazing place and tourism is the number one driver here.
“We are not planning on any real return of guests until, at the earliest, November 2020. We have been completed devastated by this and Wanaka has been like a ghost town.”
Fiona is still in Australia and is keeping an eye on the situation to see when it is safe to fly back to Glasgow.
But one thing she is sure of is that without the help of David, she may have been stranded in New Zealand alone.
She added: “I really don’t know how I would have coped with the situation without the help of David and his staff.
“They really helped to calm me down and take care of me in a stressful unknown time. I learned from this that there are nice and kind strangers who are willing to help in times of need.
“Also, that us Scots tend to stick together.”
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