I have a two-year-old?daughter?and a three-year-old-son?and I did?not?know how to explain?to them?the tragic images that they saw glimpses of on the TV.?As?a mum it felt wrong to pretend that there was nothing wrong.?Rather?than?focus on the destruction of the fires, I found it helpful to focus on the good we can see in this moment of everyone pulling together and how we all help each other out when times are tough.?
What’s happening in Australia is?not something a child can easily understand.?I?too?still?struggle?to comprehend the scale of this?unprecedented?disaster:?At least?30?people?have been killed, more?than?1.25 billion?animals?are estimated dead,?some?25?million?acres?are burned, and the fires are still burning.?
My friends, colleagues’ friends and families?have lost their?homes. Businesses,?towns?and?entire communities have been displaced. Tourist towns have no tourists.?People?ask?me, “Ali,?are you OK?” I am OK, but so many are not around our beautiful country.?
I grew up in Gippsland,?a?part of?southeast Australia?rich with agriculture and wildlife,?and an area that has been devastated by these?recent?bushfires.?A country girl, I am used to fires and floods?but?nothing could prepare me for this bushfire?season.?I was born in Omeo,?a?high-country town in the mountain ranges?of Gippsland.??It’s a tough, close-knit community where no one leaves anyone behind.?As?I write?this,?Omeo?is being evacuated as fires loom in the high country.??Branches are smouldering on our?ridges,?our wildlife is seeking refuge. We emerge from the flames in the best way we can and help others in every way possible. And?it is still only the beginning of the fire season.?