The monster fire season 2019-2020 saw many million hectares of bush and farmland burnt up and down Australia’s east coast, causing massive losses in wildlife and sweeping damage to natural landscapes made vulnerable through sudden loss of ground cover. Cities were enveloped in a pall of thick yellow smoke throughout January; Lasting health impacts are yet to be fully understood. Direct damage from fires devastated the life of numerous small communities – destruction of farm buildings, fences, and private and public property. At the human level the task of recovery has been slow – people have had to build from the ground up their livelihoods and their health; communities have been a hub for this recovery stepping up months ahead of promised government assistance.
Through fortuitous circumstances IVP was able to quickly put together a project to bring surplus garden plants, regularly discarded from wholesale nurseries, to affected communities as a quiet gesture of solidarity. First delivery was in July to a coastal village that had been cut off for weeks by fire the previous January – images from the time show residents retreating into shallow water of the nearby lake; to a backdrop of burning bushland.
The 70 plants we brought disappeared quickly and were gratefully received. We have been working since to reach other communities – supplying several hundred plants to a cluster of small communities further inland, partnering with the local council, and planning to extend our deliveries to coastal areas further south.
Even though it is approaching a year since the fires, attention to re-establishing a garden from scorched earth and weeds, delayed while makeshift accommodation arranged, can be a link on the path to restored mental health, and revived communities. Our action rested on willing cooperation from one of the largest wholesale nurseries – who supply city garden centres. The rescued plants are tangible ingredients in psychic healing for people who have lost homes and possessions; and communities coming to terms with a succession of calamities: 4 years drought, then fire, then storms then pandemic. The bush fire experience has exposed the sober virtue of walking with people – not just the drama of survival that makes the news, but the months and years for confidence to return.
If you would like to help with this project, please get in touch with Eva at firstname.lastname@example.org or Stephen at email@example.com
Attending a work camp near Ulaanbaatar gave Monica Kampfer a chance to help Mongolia’s orphans and experience the nomadic lifestyle.
After spending a day sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s polluted and overcrowded capital, it was a relief to arrive at the camp. The campsite at Buhug was in a very remote and beautiful location, surrounded by green hills and blue sky.
The children gave us a warm welcome and the more outgoing ones wanted to talk to us straight away. They were from the government-run orphanage. During the summer the orphans stay in two summer camps. This one is a vegetable farm and houses 150 children aged from eight to 18. It grows food for the kids to eat in the winter.
“For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth” – Henry Beston