Positive Stories from the Australian Wildfires

Positive+Stories+from+the+Australian+Wildfires

Sydney Gager, Editor

At this point, we all know Australia is in serious danger. The fires have already burned the equivalent amount of land as the entire country of Switzerland, and shows no signs of stopping. 

After seeing the photo of the cyclist (from Instagram @bikebug2019) sharing water, I began to wonder. Out of all the tragedy, is there any positivity?

Don’t get me wrong, Australia is in dire conditions and the most important news is the news encouraging donations and other efforts to help. But for those who feel saturated in the horrors, read on to discover some of the good amidst the chaos. 

Lots of people are helping out the wildlife in danger. The Irwins are carrying on Steve Irwin’s legacy by helping 90,000 animals, many of whom were harmed in the fires. Twenty-two year old hunter, Patrick Boyle, has gone on solo missions to get nearly ten koalas (the same amount he has seen dead) to help. Boyle acknowledges that as a hunter his rescue missions are a bit ironic, but he believes “Farmers, hunters, and workers are the ones out there actually taking action right now.” A volunteer for Australia’s Wildlife Information, Rescue, and Education Services (WIRES), Tracy Burgess, has fifteen possums living in her home. She explains that these animals seem to understand she wants to help, but she is concerned that the longer they are kept them in human care (and therefore away from the fire), the harder it will be for them to return to their native environment (which is the ultimate goal). 

As well as the important work with wildlife, many are coming together to help one another. Erin Riley has helped around fifty people with her organization, FindABed which has offers of accommodation from 3,000 people. Her goal is to help with “anything from just somewhere to have a cup of tea and wait, to somewhere to stay more long term.” A pharmacy within bushfire-affected communities has been kept open by Raj Gupta. His own house was burnt down and he cannot accept payment for the medications (due to a loss of power), but he believes that his clients “are very honourable people” who will return to pay when they can. Groups large and small are helping to provide food, from Australian Islamic Centre’s sausage sizzle which raised $1,500 to the Afghan community, Kateb Hazara Association, which donated $18,252 to the Rural Fire Service. One group of men, from Sydney’s Muslim community in Auburn, drove for six hours to prepare a barbecue in a small town called Willawarrin. Celebrities and musicians have collected donations–either through social media or fundraising gigs. Smaller acts–such as Sundanese refugee Ibrahim welcoming in musician Kathy Mikkelson, eleven others, and three dogs on New Years Eve for a festive night of food and shelter–make all the difference for those impacted. Every little bit counts and through the fires, the people of Australia are coming together to remind each other of this.

Want to help create more positivity? Donations are the best way to help and there’s lots of organizations available, including:

The NSW Rural Fire Brigade benefits volunteer firefighters. 

The Red Cross uses donations to support evacuation, reunite separated groups, work on recovery, and even offers grants to those who lost their homes.

The WWF is working on the koala crisis specifically to provide emergency care and (once the wildfires are stopped) plant 10,000 trees to increase habitat as well as protecting existing habitats. 

GIVIT works with nearly 3,000 charities to create a database of requested items and donors can donate one of these (or any other item for their virtual warehouse) or simply donate money. All funds are given 100% to support devastated communities.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is working to provide food, shelter, and other essentials for those affected as well as assisting them in long-term recovery. 

The Port Macquarie Hospital GoFundMe is setting up drinking stations, koala care, and koala accommodation to habitats. 

WIRES (the organization Tracy Burgess volunteers for) rescues and cares for hurt, sick, and orphaned animals. 

While panic is a reasonable (and necessary!) response to the events in Australia, don’t forget that the best parts of humanity will light the way to uniting and overcoming tragedy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Convery, Stephanie. “Beautiful Gestures: the Good News Stories Coming out of Australia’s Bushfires.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Jan. 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/04/beautiful-gestures-the-good-news-stories-coming-out-of-australias-bushfires.

“Irwin Family Has Saved over 90,000 Animals, Including Many Injured in Australia Wildfires.” WGN, 5 Jan. 2020, https://wgntv.com/2020/01/05/irwin-family-has-saved-over-90000-animals-including-many-injured-in-australia-wildfires/.

“What It’s like Working with Wildlife Rescued from Australia’s Deadly Fires | CBC Radio.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 3 Jan. 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-friday-edition-1.5414075/what-it-s-like-working-with-wildlife-rescued-from-australia-s-deadly-fires-1.5414082.

Zappavigna, Adrianna. “Mallacoota Local Patrick Boyle Goes Viral for Rescuing Burnt Koalas.” NewsComAu, News.com.au, 4 Jan. 2020, https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/local-hunter-turned-koala-hero-becomes-viral-sensation/news-story/b923f9c75b0a30e83cc7c880d6653ef8.