Correspondence from an Australian Unitarian

By Eric Cherry

Dear Unitarian Friends,
Australia is in a state of shock as the toll from devastation from the Victorian bush-fires slowly unfolds. It is expected that the death toll will be in excess of 200 with many in hospitals and others still unaccounted for and missing. The bushland around the fire area was truly beautiful, abounding with wildlife and a paradise for those who lived there. Now there is a blackened empty expanse of death and smouldering ashes for hundreds of thousands of acres.
I have just picked up a colleague from the airport who was at his home in Maryville (the town with greatest death toll) on Sunday. He said that on Sunday the radio reported that the fire-front was 10kms away so he got up on the roof to put the sprinklers on. By the time he got down, embers were falling 3 kms away, so he packed his wife, dog and two elderly neighbours in his car and drove 1/2 hr away to safety with minutes to spare. His house was totally destroyed. Only 2 cars got out on his access road. It is hard to imagine the terror that everyone experienced that day.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army are running appeals to provide emergency provisions and assistance for the survivors. Many businesses and community groups are pulling together to give financial support for ongoing care. For those folk who live in Victoria almost everyone knows someone affected by the tragedy. The community compassion expressed puts all other spoken of "tragedies" (such as the financial crisis) in a different perspective. Some people really know what it is to lose everything.
Our prayers, acts of kindness and generosity are summoned to give what support is possible.
Thank you for your thoughts,
Pauline Rooney is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (representing ANZUUA), and a member of the Unitarian Church of South Australia (Adelaide)

About the Author

Eric Cherry

Eric was the Director of the UUA’s International Office since August 2007. Prior to this Eric served for 12 years as a parish minister with UU congregations in Burlington, Iowa and N. Easton, Massachusetts. Eric has long been involved in the UU Partner Church movement, serving as the English...


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