February-March 2020 | Regulars

And finally… – Guest column from Ian Riseley

And finally… – Guest column from Ian Riseley

Past Rotary International President, Ian Riseley has been asked to share a few words for this issues And Finally… column, about the bushfires in Australia.

Every year in Australia, we have fires somewhere during summer. What is different this year is that the fires started so early, in Spring, and they are so widespread and intense.

Australia has six states and for most of the past couple of months there have been fires burning in every state.

In my home state of Victoria, most of the eastern part of the state, between 100 and 250 km from Melbourne, is impacted and the fires have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed several people. The speed and power of the blazes is astonishing.

The impact is felt in the major cities because of the horrible footage on TV, which I understand has been shown right around the world, as well as the strong smell and haze in the air from smoke.

Also, many families from the city take holidays in the east, and they have been evacuated, along with the local residents.

Australia is renowned for our unique wildlife, and the mass destruction of millions of koalas, kangaroos and possums, amongst many, as well as farm animals, is heart-wrenching.

It is in times like this that it becomes clear that Rotary is more than a great organisation for doing good in the world.

Rotary raises funds nationally, via the Royal Australia World Community Services website, as well as in each Rotary district.

The philosophy is that other agencies undertake the urgent relief work while the fires continue to burn and are in the news, and when others have gone and the community starts to rebuild, Rotary is there.

That doesn’t mean we do nothing in the meantime, and in District 9820 in Eastern Victoria, Rotary is collecting and donating hay for those who have been burnt out but livestock has survived.

Also, Rotarians are helping repair fencing, to keep livestock under control.

In addition, Rotary is distributing vouchers for those in need to spend in the local community, to assist both the needy and the business operators in the towns.

As an Australian Rotarian, I have been enormously gratified by the support we have received from right around the world. The expressions of goodwill and the donations flowing in have been gratefully received.

It is in times like this that it becomes clear that Rotary is more than a great organisation for doing good in the world.

It is a global family who care for each other, and that makes Rotary special.

As President Mark Mahoney has told us: Rotary Connects The World.

Read more about the Bushfires in Australia, and what Rotary is doing to help here.

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