Last summer, Australia faced an unprecedented national crisis as bushfires devastated our country.
The impact of these bushfires is still deeply felt – and will be for years to come.
Some lost their belongings; some lost their homes. Others tragically lost their loved ones.
For these people, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder to get back on their feet.
Peter was forced to flee as the bushfires blazed through his Gippsland community.
His life-long home was destroyed, along with his sheds and his equipment. He also lost a third of his sheep and cattle in the inferno.
“I can replace all of the equipment. It’s the things that belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents – things from the 1800s. They just can’t be replaced,” says Peter.
His memories and belongings were gone. His security and source of income had turned to ash.
In the weeks following the fire, Peter stayed with his daughter. But, with a 3-hour commute to check on his surviving sheep and cattle, Peter knew he couldn’t stay there for long.
“It was a long drive,” says Peter, who is in his 70s. “It was starting to take a toll.”
Thankfully, a neighbouring property owner reached out. Peter was offered a self-contained shed to sleep in while his home – and his life – is rebuilt.
As we head into the bushfire season once again, the need for long-term support still remains great as people rebuild their lives.
Our team worked with Peter to understand what he needed to re-establish a sense of home and belonging. For Peter, it was a lounge chair, a coffee table and a table and chair to eat his meals.
We were able to help people like Peter because we’ve been part of the Gippsland community for the last 41 years as well as many other regional and remote areas across Victoria and Tasmania.
“I can’t thank people enough for their generosity. I feel very humbled,” says Peter.
With family, friends and Uniting by his side, Peter is celebrating Christmas with a grateful heart.
“It’ll just be good to be around family,” Peter says.
“It’s been a year to remember for all of the wrong reasons, but at least we’re still here.”
We want to be there for people like Peter, offering support and services in times of need. We can only achieve this with your help. Your donation is urgently needed for people like Peter, hit hardest by 2020.