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NEVER ME AGAIN

By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Monday, July 1 2013

click on pic to zoom in

GEETA Bissoondaye Seenath, 47, the hiker who was lost for seven days in the Matura forest, said she has no desire to ever go on another hike again.

“Not me again. It was my first hike as well as my last,” Seenath said as she recalled her ordeal yesterday while recuperating at her home located at Chappel Street, Mt Stewart Village, Princes Town.

The mother of three disappeared while returning from a hike to the Rio Seco waterfall in Salybia on June 8. One week after wandering in the forest, (on June 15) Seenath was spotted about five miles along the Matura/Salybia Road. She was taken to the Sangre Grande District Hospital where she was warded and treated for exhaustion. She was discharged from the hospital on Saturday.

Sporting a bandage on her right foot, Seenath recalled that during the hike she got tired and decided to take a rest for a few minutes. After sitting for a short time she got up and realised that she had lost track of other hikers.

She went in search of the hikers but was unsuccessful. “I leaned my head on my knees and continued to pray for the whole night. While in the forest I kept walking and walking. On the Tuesday I saw a piece of stick and I prayed over it. Nothing much was going through my mind. I was just praying every day and night until I reached out and I thanked God for that,” she said.

Seenath explained that although she went seven days without food and proper sleep, she never felt tired or depressed. She noted as she was walking through the forest she fell into a river and sustained bruises. Holding the stick, which she used to walk out the forest, Seenath added it helped her a lot.

“ Before I went to the hike, I did my devotion at sea... While lost, I told myself that I was getting out of there alive. Somehow I knew I was not going to die in the forest. Most of the time I was in the river and I survived by drinking river water. I did not come across snakes although there were lots of crabs and mosquitoes,” she explained.

The mother publicly thanked family members, friends and all the persons who assisted in searching and praying for her safe return. In particular, she expressed gratitude for the assistance of volunteers, police and army officers as well as councillor for Toco/ Fishing Pond, Terry Rondon.

“I know people was praying for me. At the hospital, the staff took very good care of me and I send my blessing to Lord Shiva, Durga Davy and Hanuman G,” she said.

After news broke of the then missing hiker, members of the TT Defence Force, police officers, cadaver dogs and the PNM councillor and other volunteers combed several trails in search of her without any success.

One volunteer Jonathan Constantine, 23, of Paramin even lost his left arm when a trap gun went off near a camp. Yesterday Seenath noted she heard when a gunshot rang off but she was at the time some distance away.

Seenath’s sister, Champa Singh, 66, estranged husband Seenath Mohan, 57, daughter Roshnie, 19, and other relatives gathered at the house to offer support to her.

With a smile Roshnie admitted she was elated that her mother returned home alive. “It was a big weight off our shoulders. Family, friends and also members of the public, we all said prayers for her protection,” the daughter said.

But the daughter admitted that she was disappointed that government officers did not contact the family. “They did not even offer words of encouragements. At that point in time, that is all we needed. The councillor (Judy Hart) may have contacted my father,” she noted.

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