Australia Connected & United

048691-volunteers

As I read the article below and look at the pictures I can feel tears welling up in my eyes as I see a glimpse of an Australia I long for.  I wish it didn’t have to take such a horrible flood disaster for people to break down the stranger barriers and see people as fellow sojourners rather than competitors. I celebrate every day the connections being made and hope that we can embrace these connections into the future.  Life is so much richer when it is lived with people in the hard times, like the current floods, but also in the good times.  Have a read of the article below (for once the courier mail actually got it right) and celebrate with us a diverse, connected, united Australia!

So why did these people volunteer ?

SO much mess, so much grief – but so many helpers. Tanya Chilcott spoke to these volunteers about why they aided Chelmer flood victim Ram Choudhury.

(The numbers below correspond to the people in the photograph above.)

1: JEFF COCKS

HE has been in disaster zones before, but only to entertain as part of the Australian Army Band. Yesterday, the 47-year-old Samford Village resident had rolled up his sleeves instead to help load garbage trucks with mud-covered furniture and possessions outside the Bridge St home. “There is a lot of people in need and it is a bit hard to sit at home and have the TV on and not want to come and do something,” Brisbane’s Australian Army Band officer-in-command said. “You think that you can maybe take a little bit of the sting out of it for someone. “We didn’t really want to register, we just thought no, we will just drive down with a car full of stuff and just yell out and that is what we did. “As soon as we turned the corner, we just pulled over at the first site and said “hey, do you want a hand” and they were like “yep – sure, hook in” and we haven’t moved since.”

2&3: JOHN AND TOM CRONIN

THIS Indooroopilly father-and-son team were directed from the Graceville State School assembly point after buying one of the last four water pressure hoses – run by a petrol tank – in Australia on Saturday especially to help out in the floods. It cost them about $1000. When asked why he had gone to the trouble and spent so much money John Cronin explained: “It was needed”.

4&5: CARL AND LEANNE DEW

Both business owners from Noosa, Carl and Leanne Dew are veteran volunteers following natural disasters. They were in Newcastle in 1986 when Leanne first volunteered and yesterday, they drove down from Noosa and stayed at the house of Mr Cocks (Brisbane’s Australian Army Band officer-in-command) on Saturday night. “We had some friends around the corner and we got here and this was pretty bad so we started straight here,” Mr Dew said. “There was probably a dozen or 15 loads of furniture (that needed to be thrown out),” he said. “It’s just good to be with everyone here – it’s really equalling,” Mr Dew said yesterday. “ It is the right thing to do.”

6&7: SARAH AND MARK WOOD

SARAH Wood knows what it is like to be scared facing down a flood. The 28-year-old got a text message on Tuesday warning her to evacuate to higher ground. While her Deception Bay house ended up being safe, she found herself wanting to help others yesterday and among some devastating scenes. “I just can’t believe how bad it is,” she said. “Nothing compares from when you are watching it on Tele to actually being here – seeing the mud, stepping in the mud, smelling it. “Seeing the devastation; I have just thrown a whole families of worth of goods out – that is years of their lives. You see kids’ toys and you just think, that is heart-breaking. “I just feel sorry for these poor buggers – they went totally under. They didn’t have a chance.” She was joined yesterday by her husband Mark, who came despite just working six days in a row, and her mother-in-law Karen Wood.

8: KAREN WOOD

KAREN was one of the eager volunteers who was turned away from a Brisbane City Council point on Saturday and yesterday morning decided to take matters into her own hands, driving with her son and daughter-in-law until they found they were needed in Bridge St.

9: MlCHAEL WRIGHT

THE Thiess Services executive general manager, who also lives at Chelmer, was leading a group of volunteers from his company yesterday. “I run a part of Thiess; we had a lot of volunteers yesterday and we have got a whole lot more today and trucks and bobcats,” he said. “A lot of people have travelled a long way. “We do a lot of work in the community, so we are giving something back to the community.”

10 & 11: DANIEL GBOR and MUSSA DARAYWALLY

At only 26 Daniel has spent more than half of his life in a refugee camp. The Liberian-born Australian, who works alongside Mussa Daraywally as a truck driver, said he had seen some very hard times so helping others was important. “We are very, very happy to be here, this country has saved our life,” the former Liberian said. “So if anything happens to anyone here that means for all of us, we have to work together and help. “We don’t have money to help them, we can only use our power to help them remove things from their place.” Mussa Daraywally, who works with Mr Gbor driving small trucks, said while his English wasn’t the best, he also felt lucky to be and Australian and privileged to be helping yesterday.

12: CAMERON WOODS

IT was “a sense of helping out at the community” that drove public servant Cameron Woods to volunteer for the first time on the weekend, helping out at  Fairfield and Yeronga on Saturday and in Bridge Street yesterday.

13: TONY MCGUIRE

WITH his twin sister in Bridge St also being inundated with water, the office manager found himself helping out Ram as well, helping to load an estimated 20 to 40 truckloads of destroyed furniture and possessions into trucks yesterday.

14: MATT WILLIAMS

After helping his cousin on Saturday the 39-year-old marketing consultant knew his neighbour Ram, who lives in a property at Taringa, also needed help. “It’s a little bit like a war zone, but it’s all cleanable at the end of the day,” he said.

15,16 & 17 (not pictured): THE AHMED FAMILY

AFTER going out and helping people yesterday Iftekhar Ahmed found himself being begged by his children to help. Famin, 14 and her brother Shadid, 11, started baking on Saturday night and yesterday hit the streets with cold drinks, savour muffins and party pies. “I couldn’t sit at home,” their father, Iftekhar said. “Yesterday I went and helped a few people at Indooroopilly  . . . later I realised they needed food and drinks. “The kids have been asking to help and I was a bit worried if they got to a construction site they might get an injury, so this is probably the best way to be part of it because they were whinging at home, “I want to be part of it, I want to be part of it”.” Shadid said it felt really good to help.