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Connect and reflect . . . A group of Lake Ōhau  women came together last month for a wellness event. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

‘‘Don’t lose what you have because of what you have lost.’’

As the aftermath of the Lake Ōhau fire continues to impact on the wellbeing of the community, a group of Lake Ōhau women came together last month for a wellness event.

Held at Matuka Lodge, the Lake Ōhau Ladies (LŌL) event was an opportunity for women to connect, reflect, and share their experiences.

Co-organiser Viv Smith-Campbell said with so many houses lost, women who would usually be in the township had not been able to, making friendships and connections difficult.

‘‘The focus was on women for this day, as women often find coming together to talk and share is a way to help one another and then take these learnings home,’’ Mrs Smith- Campbell said.

Timaru clinical psychologist Kat Wolinski led a discussion about what people could experience after a traumatic event and what they could do for their wellbeing.

Everyone left touched by the strong sense of community and shared love of Ōhau, Mrs Smith-Campbell said.

The event was organised as a one›off after a fire debrief in Twizel earlier this year, as it had become increasingly obvious people needed another chance to connect and share, co- organiser Pip Walter said.

‘‘With a focus on the women involved, we felt we were able to widen the topics covered to include the clinical psychology session, thinking potentially women would be more receptive and able to talk through these issues more freely, then take home the learning to the others in their lives.

‘‘However as the day unfolded, a number of comments and feedback we received included the suggestions [and] requests for holding more similar events.’’

Some of the most rewarding feedback was that it helped make connections to the village that they were not otherwise aware that they shared with other women.

The event was able to be held thanks to ‘‘very generous sponsorship and support’’ from the community and organisations, including the Waitaki District Council’s Lake Ōhau Fire Mayoral Fund, Rural Women New Zealand Nga Wahine Taiwhenua o Aotearoa, Mackenzie Lodge No 93, Freemasons and the High Country Medical Trust, Mrs Smith-Campbell said.