And now, if you're the praying kind, i want you to pray. If you aren't, i want you to send all the best energy, love and good thoughts you can muster to the people of south-eastern Victoria, here in Australia. For those of you in foreign countries who arent receiving the news, this past weekend has seen the worst natural disaster in Australian history. A wave of bushfires - a firestorm as they are calling it - hit an area in the state of Victoria. There are, so far, 173 people confirmed dead and that number is expected to rise to over 300. Over 5000 people have lost their homes and are now living in makeshift refugee camps. Not only have individual houses been lost, but there are whole townships and communities that have been razed to the ground - these towns no longer exist. Over 300,000 hectares of land have been burned through. The smoke from the fires is starting to drift into the town where i live - 659 kilometres, or just over 400 miles, away.
In the past two days, generous Australians ( including myself and my family ) have donated in excess of $20 million to bushfire appeals and, instead of waiting until i moved house, I'm now going to go through my wardrobe tonight and will donate all of my older clothes to a local charity who will be sending a truck down later this week.
The photo in the middle is the reaction of man who has just been told his mother is dead; the fourth a four car collision, people trying frantically to escape the fire zone ( all the people in those cars perished ); the fifth, a bulletin board at one of the camps, filled with messages from people desperately trying to find their loved ones ( much as they did after 9/11 ). I'm not delieberately trying to depress you, but it just seems to me, having lived in the Northern Hemisphere, that the worlds media is focused on the US and Europe, and the residents of countries up there dont necessarily know what is going on in the rest of the world.
I wanted someone to know. I also want you to care, even if you cant help from where you are. Thoughts and prayers and hopes and wishes - those will be appreciated too.