KOTA BELUD: Just when they finally had the chance to be a family again, tragedy struck.
Robbi Sapinggi, 31, and his wife Reena Joshi, 32, had been separated for a few months after their wedding in September because she had to return to England unexpectedly.
Medical student Reena said she first met Robbi more than seven years ago while she was travelling in Sabah and happened to pass through his village of Kampung Kiau Nuluh in Kota Belud.
He and his father were the tour guides when she and her group went up Mount Kinabalu.
“We decided to pursue a relationship a few years later and ended up getting married last September in Sabah,” she told The Star.
Reena said because they practised different faiths, they decided to tie the knot at Robbi’s home instead of a place of worship.
She said she had to return to England due to matters between her and her family last year. She was not even able to return to Sabah to give birth to her son, now aged six months.
“Because of the health of the child, I had to stay in England for a set period, after which it was okay to travel.
“I now live in Cornwall but I move all over the country due to my studies and work,” she said.
Reena said she flew in from England with her son with the intention of staying in Sabah for the long-term.
The couple’s plans were crushed by Friday’s earthquake tragedy. Robbi lost his life while rescuing a tourist under his care during the devastating quake.
When asked how she felt about her husband’s sacrifice, Reena said it was just “one of his attributes”.
“He was a real character and fun loving. He would go out of his way to do anything and everything for everybody. He always put others first before himself.
“He was a great husband, and he’s a father now. He was a very, very caring father. He was always smiling, that was the best thing about him,” said Reena with a weak smile between the tears.
On whether she would raise their son in Sabah, Reena said she was unsure if she would continue staying in Sabah following the tragedy.
“Following recent events, I’m really unsure, to be honest. I just hope his name and his legacy remain in the tourism industry. He was a good man,” she said of her heroic husband.
Throughout the funeral wake, Reena was seen being brave and keeping her composure.
However, the bereaved wife completely broke down as villagers lowered Robbi’s casket into his final resting place.
Robbi’s employers Amazing Borneo have started a crowdfunding campaign for him. In 24 hours, they had raised close to RM100,000.
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