When Andy Thorp heard his rotary club in the seaside town of Merimbula was being sent a donation from people in Papua New Guinea to help bushfire victims, he was shocked to learn of the amount.
The donation totalled more than $60,000.
“What a generous thing to do. I thank them very much.”
Merimbula is one of many towns on the New South Wales east coast that is still recovering months after some of the worst bushfires Australia has ever seen.
More than 12.6 million hectares across Australia were burnt, nearly 3,000 homes destroyed and almost 3 billion koalas, kangaroos and other animals were estimated to have been killed or displaced, in Australia’s Black Summer bushfires.
In Papua New Guinea’s second-largest city, Lae, Sheila Harou saw those pictures on the news and was inspired to take action.
“We called out to all our Morobeans to be united in one heart, to give from the heart to console our neighbour,” she said.
She started a bushfire appeal which saw young people take to the streets pushing wheelbarrows, asking for public donations, while more than 20 organisations also gave money.
“Youth groups, churches, businesses, schools, and corporate houses … they all participated and gave their contributions in cash and kind,” she said.
In total, they raised $61,000, which has made its way in recent weeks to communities in the Eden-Monaro electorate.
Despite our own daily struggles it is a tradition to come togather in times of hardship and grief and Lae city’s residents showed PNG’s spirit of giving and support with flying colors
The money was given to the Merimbula Rotary Club, which gave $50,000 to the Bega Valley Council. The Rotary Club kept $11,000 for bushfire recovery projects in their town.
The act of kindness left Bega Valley Council Shire Mayor Sharon Tapscott astounded.
“To read that these people were donating what little they had, I cannot tell you how much this money means to me, not so much in dollar terms but the value in humanitarian terms, it’s amazing,” she said.
Just over 70,000 people live in Lae, the capital city of PNG’s Morobe province.
Pic Credit: Lae Urban Facebook Page