Family who lost everything in fires humbled by kindness
TORN from their home and all possessions, the Armstrong family was "dumbfounded" by the kindness of strangers who treated them to a week on the Coast.
After dealing with the mental, emotional and financial aftermath of losing their Nana Glen home to bushfire, the family of four was grateful to have the opportunity to relax at Australia Zoo.
It was the first visit to the zoo for Dane and Kath Armstrong's daughters, Aleyah, 10, and Seychelles, 8, who were looking forward to feeding their favourite animals, giraffes.
"We're most excited about the giraffe encounter and just seeing all the other animals," Mrs Armstrong said. "It feels awesome to get away from the stress of everything."
The young girls were chuffed at having the chance to get up close and personal with the animals during feeding time and said they were "really, really grateful".
A kind stranger has put the family up in a penthouse at Kings Beach for the week while they explore the region and have much-needed downtime. Mr Armstrong said "just to get away" and have the chance to spend time at the zoo and other attractions as a family was important mentally.
"All I've been doing for the last two months is trying to work out what to do and where to get money from," he said. "Trying to have a break is awesome. I've just constantly been rebuilding the new home and it's been a bit full-on. I don't really sleep that well. Even though I'm here, my brain's still a bit foggy."
The generosity of strangers and businesses like Australia Zoo has made a world of difference to the family following the trauma of losing their home.
"It makes me want to cry some days because so many people that we don't even know have given us so much love and cared for us," Mr Armstrong said. "We don't even know them and they're doing so many awesome things for us."
Upon returning home to NSW, the family, like thousands of Australians, will be faced with the harsh reality of rebuilding.
"It's just part of the journey isn't it? The journey's changed so I've got to step forward and keep going and try and make a new home for the family and try and stay tough," he said.