I, like most Aussies and many around the world, have become traumatised witnesses to the megafires burning throughout the eastern seabord of Australia. I couldn’t think of what to write and then remembered the monthly WeAreTheWorldBlogfest and the commitment of all participating bloggers to find a positive story of humanity to share with the world.
So in this post, because we, because I need it, I’ve found two positive stories arising from the fires. One is about a woman who offered her paddocks to fire survivors livestock, the other is about a dog trained to find wounded koalas. Enjoy.
Beautiful gestures: the good news stories coming out of Australia’s bushfires
Australians are banding together to offer accommodation, food, medicine and funds for firefighters
When Erin Riley tweeted an offer of the paddocks behind her house to bushfire evacuees with animals, the PhD student did not expect herself to be running an emergency accommodation service by the end of the week.
But that’s precisely what happened after her New Year’s Eve tweet was shared widely. People began responding with similar offers, so Riley started a database of volunteers and began matching them with those seeking help.
In four days Riley’s impromptu organisation, FindABed, has received offers of accommodation from more than 3,000 people. They have so far helped some 50 people from fire-affected areas – many with pets, who would otherwise find it difficult to secure accommodation.
“It can be anything from just somewhere to have a cup of tea and wait, to somewhere to stay more long term,” Riley told Guardian Australia. “We even had someone who just wanted a shower.”
Riley’s is just one of many stories of community members taking initiative and banding together to support one another amid the devastation and ongoing toll of Australia’s bushfire crisis.
A musician, Kathy Mikkelsen, told Guardian Australia that she and her family had been in Mallacoota where she was supposed to be performing with her band at the golf club on New Year’s Eve. They evacuated on 30 December to Tathra, only to find themselves evacuating again when a warning of approaching fire came through at 3.30am.
Six adults, six children and three dogs – her family as well as her friends’ families – then made their way to Bega, where they got stuck. Concerned about protecting their children from embers falling, they started to erect a camp in the underground car park of the local Safeway, when the trolley attendant, a Sudanese refugee named Ibrahim, stopped them and offered his home for the night – a tiny flat above the shops.