Since the brushfire season started in Australia during September 2019, over 10.7 million hectares (one hectare is equal to roughly 107,639 square feet) of land have burned. This disheartening crisis has taken the lives of 25 people, destroyed countless homes, and has also killed an estimated 1.25 billion animals in Australia’s wilderness. These statistics are devastating, and Australia is facing the largest fire crisis in its history.
Sadness has been felt throughout the globe for the emergency state of the continent, and on a more optimistic note, countless individuals, organizations, and even countries have stepped up to help Australia in its time of extreme need. It has been really cool to witness the philanthropy that has been displayed worldwide as we come together to assist in the brush fires, and I thought that it would be a nice break from all of the discouraging news to highlight a few different ways that I’ve seen in which people, both in and out of Australia, have come together for the cause and contributed in immense ways.
- Sarah’s Day
I am a huge fan of Sarah Stevenson, a 27-year-old health and lifestyle Youtuber from Australia. Sharing her heavy heart for her country, she brainstormed ways that she could use her platform to raise awareness and funds for the brush fires overtaking Australia. After just a few short days, she was able to raise $391,660 by selling her fitness ebooks and giving 100% of the proceeds to Australian charities, including the Salvation Army Australia and the NSW Rural Fire Service. This selfless fundraiser has been able to fund four different organizations in the fight against fires and is a perfect example of the way that influencers can use their platforms to truly make a difference. Several other influencers and celebrities have also done similar fundraisers and given away money to assist Australia.
2. Saving the Animals
Because there are so many animals in Australia’s wilderness, the fires have threatened and taken the lives of many helpless animals. In particular, the koala population has been decimated greatly. Several videos have surfaced of citizens in Australia rescuing the animals in their cars, assisting koalas to safely escape the fires, and offering water to those fleeing the fires. In addition, many hospitals are taking in injured koalas and working to save them, including researchers from the San Diego Zoo in California who have successfully rescued and relocated koalas to hospitals in Australia. If you need some cheering up, look up some of these videos to witness the cuteness overload and the good nature of the people stepping up to save the animals. (Here is a link: https://youtu.be/CsFE1yf51vo https://youtu.be/KHGgKRDHHvU https://youtu.be/nOo3cAz7w8Q )
Not only have thousands of volunteers from Australia stepped up to fight the fires, a few countries have also sent in firefighters in a global attempt to bring relief to Australia. The U.S., Canada, and New Zealand have all sent in firefighters. In 2018, Australia sent 138 firefighters to the US when we were dealing with wildfires. Now, we have been able to reciprocate and come alongside the country to bring all the help possible. It is encouraging to see so many selfless individuals who are sacrificing themselves to help both their own country and countries in need!
4. One Little Boy With a Big Amount of Ambition
Lastly, I wanted to bring attention to one six-year-old from Massachusetts who, at such a young age, is finding ways to contribute to the fire relief. Owen Colley heard about the fires and was deeply upset by the fact that so many animals had been injured or killed since the beginning of the brush fires. He began to make koalas out of clay and selling them to raise money for the cause, and has raised more than $200,000 with his creativity and heart for Australia’s wildlife. It is so uplifting and encouraging to see even the youngest citizens stepping outside of themselves and using what they have for the good of others. If you have time, look this one up too, he is so precious! (here is the link to his Go Fund Me page! https://www.gofundme.com/f/owen039s-australian-creature-rescue)
Let’s keep praying, raising awareness, and finding out ways we can help Australia as they continue to battle these fires. The good news is that rain has come to many parts of the continent in the past few days, which has jump-started containment. With help from people around the world, Australia can find relief from the devastation that has swept across the country.
Resources and extra information:
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-01-09/zoo-researchers-koalas-fires-australia https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-sends-firefighters-battle-australia-blazes-68127994 https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/14/us/boy-makes-clay-koalas-australia-fires-trnd/index.html
Photo Credits: CNet.com