By Alexis Calcavecchia
Since November 2019, more than 12 million acres of land have been destroyed. That’s the size of the entire state of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.
The five months I spent studying abroad in New South Wales were some of the best days of my life. I remember seeing and interacting with the kangaroos at Pebbly Beach, tasting the local wines, chocolates, and vodkas in Hunter Valley, and hearing the unique sounds of diverse species right outside my third-floor dorm window in Wollongong.
As the Australian bushfires of 2020 still burn, volunteers and servicemen have been risking their lives daily to combat the deadly flames. Here are the facts:
So far, 27 people have died and thousands of houses have been destroyed.
The entire ecosystem is at risk. The insects that pollinate and fertilize the soils have diminished and thousands of marsupials are now at risk. Koalas are now even more vulnerable to extinction than they were already in previous years.
One of the reasons why I chose to study in Australia was to be able to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the bushes, and now, with so much of it gone, Australia needs us more than ever.
We need to stand up and act to help the people who lost their homes and are going to have to rebuild their lives. We need to be able to provide food for the innocent and helpless animals. We need to support the firefighters who will forever be reminded of the screaming koalas coming from the burning trees. So what can we do to help?
As the fires still torch the terrain, there are several organizations working to end the crisis and below are five unique ways you can contribute:
Humane Society International - This charity has deployed its disaster response team to Kangaroo Island in Southern Australia to recover and care for the remaining survivors of the land. The emotional impact of walking through the scenes of charred animals is devastating and emotional, but they are not giving up.
"AMIDST ALL THIS DEATH, EVERY TIME WE FIND AN ANIMAL ALIVE IT FEELS LIKE A MIRACLE."
- Kelly Donithan, HSI’s senior specialist in HSI disaster response.
International Fund for Animal Welfare - The United States-based organization works with countries internationally to protect animals. They currently have a team deployed in Australia to combat the bushfires. With the help of donations, they are working to rescue and rehabilitate the wildlife that survived the flames, and send Bear, the koala detection dog, to search for koalas that are struggling to survive and provide emergency support for wildlife.
NSW Rural Fire Service - NSW RFS has been combatting bushfires in NSW for over a century. They respond to a wide array of emergencies and are the largest volunteer fire service in the world. The volunteers are trained to very high levels of competence to prepare for an emergency situation and to reduce and prevent future fires. They are looking for volunteers and donations for training resources and materials to combat the fires.
Wires Wildlife Rescue - WIRES has been rescuing and caring for animals for over 30 years, and they have never seen such a catastrophic continuous event occur like the fires that began last year. The largest wildlife rescue organization in Australia is also pursuing additional ways to help wildlife in any way, such as partnering on projects that will ensure long-term outcomes for the native species. They are looking for donations and volunteers.
Red Cross Australia - The Australian Red Cross has everything you need to access help. On their website, they mention that anyone who has lost their home, or now have an inhabitable home because of a bushfire since July 2019 can apply for a $5,000 emergency grant/per household to rebuild their homes. The Australian Red Cross is supporting people all over the country. They are providing psychological first aid, registering people so they know that their loved ones are safe, providing food, water, shelter and care for everyone affected and will continue to do so as the fires persist. Visit their website to find out how you can get involved.
Graphic Designer @flare.designs owner and dear friend, Miranda Tom created digital downloads (like this koala print) and donated 100 percent of the profits to WIRES Wildlife rescue.
Alexis Calcavecchia is a writer based in New York City. When she’s not busy freelance writing about travel, fashion, and lifestyle, she’s relaxing with her dogs, finding inspiration to create and style, and working on herself. Follow her on Instagram @alexiscalcavecchia.