Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

Australian Islamic Centre pitches in to aid bushfire victims and firefighters

Volunteers from a group in Victoria raise money and cook hot meals for bushfire victims and firefighters in Johnsonville

As bushfires ravage huge parts of Australia, various communities are doing their part to help.

In between stories of celebrities making generous donations and people knitting pouches for injured animals, the Australian Islamic Centre in Newport, Victoria, has also come forward to help.

“We were in touch with the Melbourne Fire Brigade to see how we could help out, considering the bushfires in [New] South Wales. Obviously, we wanted to do something for the firefighters. They told us the best way we can help is to provide perishable and non-perishable supplies to the victims,” says Lookman El Kurdi, a volunteer at the centre.

Last Thursday, the members behind the centre put out a call on their social media asking for donations of necessary items that could be distributed to victims of the fire.

They also had a "sausage sizzle" in order to raise money.

Within 48 hours, the supplies that were donated were enough to fill five trucks.

"The best part is that the donations came from all members of society and all nationalities. It was wonderful that so many people came together to help” says El Kurdi.

The Australian Islamic Centre, in collaboration with Human Appeal International, then drove four hours to Johnsonville in order to give the supplies to victims of the bushfires cut off from basic necessities.

“We expected to drive there with about 25 volunteers - but instead we got as many as 45,” said El Kurdi. “We actually had to turn people away.”

When the community got to Johnsonville, the volunteers distributed the supplies and also had a barbecue to feed the people and firefighters there.

“We could see how stressed out and tired the firefighters there were. Some were coming out of 10 hour shifts. And the people were also so glad to see us – many broke down and hugged us. It had been days before some of these people had access to a hot, cooked meal.

“It was pretty sad. We wanted to send a message of solidarity that the community is thinking of you and are here to support you in any which way we can.”

Updated: January 10, 2020 11:20 AM

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