Anyone following this blog will know I have been following the Victorian Bushfires - I can't help it - knowing the towns and communities that were hit, having family and friends that were directly affected, as well as some who have been directly involved in the aftermath, the clean-up, the re-building of lives.
One of the people I was initially worried about when I heard the news was Marg. I knew the bushfires were in Taggerty, where she and her husband lived. A short email was answered a couple of days later - they were ok, miraculously so were the neighbours closest to them. The fires did ravage around them but their personal losses were minimal - unlike so many others in the neigboring districts.
Marg started sending out a group email a few days later, letting us know how things were going, and eventually how the recovery work was progressing. She talked about the people she met and the strories she heard. Those emails have now turned into a blog and she continues to write while experimenting with this new format. If you are interested in news, personal stories & inspiration from the Victorian Bushfires I thoroughly recommend you have a look at Marg's Bushfire Recovery Diary.
Another project I have been following closely is the Lost Photo Project and my dear friend Michelle, who was quick off the mark with the idea of helping bushfire victims recover lost photos. A common answer to the question of "What would you grab if you had 5 minutes to get your most valuable possessions out of your home?" is undoubtedly - the photo albums. Yet many of the victims of the fires did not even get 5 minutes - they were lucky enough to get out with their lives intact.
The Lost Photo Project is asking friends, family and the wider community to be forthcoming with photos that might be of value to the bushfire victims. The photos are then being used to put together albums which are then presented to the victims, giving them back something that initially was thought to be irreplaceable.
The team from the project went on national television in Australia this week - to make an appeal to the wider public for help with the project.
So if you happen to have been in any of these areas holidaying - have a look back through your photos - you just never know if you have some locals, or local landmarks in the background that might be appreciated by these communities.
Other blogs/sites about the Victorian Bushfires:
Victorian Bushfire Network
Disaster Help Site
Help Flowerdale Now
ABC Bushfire Blog
The Tree Project
Bushfire Help - Services
Pan Da Koala on Facebook (worth looking at!!!)
Help For Wildlife
Bushfire Appeal for the Wildlife
Animal Rescue Blog
Thank You Firies
Out of all of this there is one thing that becomes very, very clear. The concept of mateship is alive and well and the community spirit, already so strong in Australia, goes from strength to strength. Just don't forget the wildlife - they need our help too - now and in the years to come.