Love from tragedy

February 14, 2009 at 2:00 am 3 comments

No doubt you have heard about the tragic bushfires that blazed their way through townships in Victoria, Australia – leaving 181 people dead, although officials think the toll could climb to 300. Nine hundred homes have been razed to the ground in these “Hell on Earth” bushfires, which are the deadliest in Australian history. 7000 or so survivors are camping out in tents. All their treasured possessions up in smoke. Loved ones dead. I cannot begin to tell you how this has affected Australians.

There was a perfect storm on February 7 – sky high temperatures, the highest ever recorded in Melbourne (46.4C or 115.5F) and strong winds fanning the inferno, sending it hurtling towards the towns of Kinglake and Marysville. Families were caught with no time to flee because the fires moved with such speed. I’m sure to the people engulfed in these deadly fires it must have seemed like Armageddon. We live in the bush with a national park right behind us and it was about 44C on the same day where we live in New South Wales – so we were a tad nervous.

There’s a suggestion that some of the fires were lit by arsonists. If so, then I hope they are tracked down and prosecuted. Even our Prime Minister has uttered the phrase “mass murder”. You can donate money to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. Last I read, donations had exceeded AU$100 million – Australians are at their best when there’s a tragedy like this and we need to pull together. The outpouring of generosity has been great to see.

Anyway, I don’t wish to dwell on all this because out of tragedy touching stories can emerge and ThinkingShift reader, Oohlala from Thailand, has alerted me to a great story.  You can read the full story here but in a nutshell this is what happened.

Two badly-burned koalas have fallen in love and a volunteer firefighter has been privileged to care for one of these koalas in its time of greatest need.  Sam is a female koala burnt in the Victorian blaze and disoriented. David Tree is a volunteer firefighter who came across Sam cowering in a burnt out forest area. From a plastic bottle, he gave Sam water as she placed her burnt paw in his hand. For those who know what koalas are like, this is a rare action for a koala to have such contact with a human. You can watch the video below but warning, it will bring you to tears. As Tree says:

“You can see how she stops and moves forward and looks at me. It was like a look saying “I can’t run, I’m weak and sore, put me out of my misery”.

Sam was then taken to an animal shelter where she fell in love with Bob, another poor koala who had been burnt in the inferno. One of the people at the shelter has said:

“They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs. They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all this. It’s been horrific”.

Both koalas are doing well and are a symbol of the courage and spirit of Australia in one of its darkest hours.  Thanks to Oohlala for telling me about this story.

UPDATE: Sam now has her own Facebook page.


Entry filed under: Animal welfare, Animals, Australia. Tags: , .

Of spices and souks How low would you go?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. LI Siu Wai  |  February 14, 2009 at 7:25 am

    It is a story for us – human being to reflect, many many areas here. We can see how Trust is established here – overcoming the Untrust, then breaking the original boundary, not only making the animals being closer, but as well as animal with us.

    There are talents working hard on building the highest and impossible buildings in the earth. What is the value for human being in seeking over the top on this? Can we have the talents working with focus together to protect the earth?

    I am now learning the subject on the Communities of Practice, therefore just wonder if there are already CoPs with objective to resolve or share the best practice in killing the forest fire to benefit the whole world. It is not only an issue in Australia.

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  February 14, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Hello Li Siu, I believe you are one of my students 🙂 this was a real case of trust – a poor frightened koala deciding to trust a human to care & rescue it.

    I’m not aware of a specific CoP along the lines of what you mention but firefighters and crew do regular After Action Reviews following fighting of fires and share best practice. You might be interested to check out the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (US), which uses AARs to promote a learning culture around effective work practices in the wildland fire community:

    Some other readers may know more and will leave a comment.

  • 3. Peem  |  February 14, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    This is a touching story. We could find love and friendship under the crisis.
    I hope all survivors will be better soon.
    Sorry for the tragedy.


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