A fundraising appeal to repatriate the body of a young woman who died while working abroad has exceeded its target.
Ashleigh Wallis, 22, from Strood, was pursuing her dream job of working abroad as an English teacher in Taiwan.
But on November 18, his family learned the terrible news of his death.
Although the family still don’t know exactly what happened in the days leading up to her death, reports from colleagues and the Foreign Ministry indicate that she hit her head on November 14, but that after medical treatment and a CT scan, she was discharged.
Her grieving parents, Marvin and Julia, have spent the past five weeks working with the Taiwanese Foreign Office and Embassy to try to bring Ashleigh home.
Initially, they were told it could take up to two months for authorities to release Ashleigh’s body, pending the final post-mortem report. They were cited over £ 13,000 for repatriation.
But after that rose to £ 35,000 and costs skyrocketed amid costly Covid and airfreight bounties, Ashleigh’s godmother Charlene Howland organized a fundraiser to help speed up the things.
Yesterday she posted an update on the fundraising page say the family had now secured enough funds to bring Ashleigh home. Over £ 23,000 has been raised to cover excess charges and the family intend to use their own funds to cover the initial costs shown.
Charlene said: “I spoke to the family this morning. They were really touched by each other’s support and kindness.
“They don’t know how to thank all of you for your donations and for sharing our story, especially at this time of year.
“I had increased the target to cover all the costs to bring Ashleigh home, but this morning they told me that with what they have already collected and what we have collected via Gofund me up to now they are able to repatriate Ashleigh. “
She added: “While they are grateful that I want to cover all the costs, bringing Ashleigh home is all they ever wanted, five days ago they knew how they were going to do this, the generosity family, friends and strangers made it possible. “
“They were really touched by each other’s support and kindness”
The increase in fees is due to the fact that there are now fewer flights due to the pandemic and – as a result – less availability for special cargo.
Airlines have decided to sell all cargo space at a higher price – a 200% markup over the regular fare.
This means that each day Ashleigh stays in the country an additional £ 40 is added for death costs. The family must also pay the costs of translation and documentation.
Godmother Charlene thanked the people for their support which will now help the family to rest her.
“Ashleigh’s parents had increased the upfront costs cited and it is important for them that they pay those costs as well,” she said.
“It is the unreasonable and exorbitant additional cost caused by the pandemic with which I asked for help.
“We achieved what we set out to do. Thank you all very much. From the bottom of my heart, honestly, I cannot thank each of you enough for helping me reach the goal so quickly.
“When people come together the most amazing things can happen. Although I am no longer asking for a donation, your kind words are of continued support.”
Ashleigh, who was from Gravesend and attended St John’s elementary and secondary school, graduated from college during the pandemic and turned to teaching abroad.
In September 2020, she leaves for Taiwan and works in a primary school teaching English as a second language.
A preliminary post-mortem result shows no obvious cause of death and it has not yet been confirmed whether a blow she received to the head shortly before her death is linked.
She was fearless, she knew what she wanted to do and she was going to get it
Speaking previously, Charlene, 39, paid tribute to her “incredible” goddaughter.
“Ashleigh was amazing,” she said. “She was a really funny, witty and intelligent little girl. She wasn’t afraid, she knew what she wanted to do and she was going to get it.
“She had the biggest heart and she was always so helpful. She was just a great kid. Ashleigh loved doing this job and she always smiled. She never smiled.”
She added: “Ashleigh had a determination about her and nothing was ever going to stop her. She had just blossomed. She was – and would have been – amazing.
“We are in awe of her.”