The ladies of the Australian Islamic Centre raised $1,500 in donations and 5 trucks full of supplies in just 48 hours and traveled over 4 hours to get them to those in need.
Editor's note: We are re-sharing some of the best moments and most important stories of 2020. Although it was a difficult year for nearly all of us, there were also shining moments of light and signs of hope. This was one of them.
The ladies of the Australian Islamic Centre could not sit idly as devastating bushfires raged all around them and threatened to burn their beloved country to the ground. With the help of social media, the group from Newport, Victoria — a suburb of Melbourne—raised $1,500 in donations and 5 trucks full of supplies in just 48 hours and traveled over 4 hours to get them to those in need. Upon arrival at Johnsonville, the ladies quickly set about preparing breakfast for the exhausted firefighters who've been tirelessly working towards bringing the flames under control.
Speaking to CNN, Rashid Elhouli, who oversees online public relations for the Australian Islamic Centre, revealed that the women traveled for hours along with other volunteers to get necessary supplies to victims of the raging bushfires. They also fed breakfast to 150 firefighters in Johnsonville, for which Rodney Baylis—a Johnsvonville firefighter— expressed gratitude to the group in a video posted on Facebook. "[I] extend the thanks from the fire-affected areas. I have just been on the phone to the captain down there and he nearly broke into tears when I told him what we are bringing in for them today," Baylis says in the video.
Elhouli revealed that the Australian Islamic Centre began making plans on Thursday to help out the thousands of people affected by the bushfires that have been ravaging the country for the past several months. After speaking to the Melbourne Fire Brigade, they put out a call for donations for supplies of the likes of female hygiene products, water bottles, milk, baby wipes, and fresh fruit via social media. The following day, the center hosted a sausage sizzle after the prayer service, serving plates of food to raise money for the bushfire victims.
Although the event was originally scheduled to raise money for their youth program, Elhouli said the group decided to "donate it all to the bushfire appeal." The caravan of five truck filled with supplies set out early Saturday morning after feeding the firefighters at Johnsonville, the volunteers were escorted to different areas to distribute the items by the Melbourne Fire Brigade. "Our team set up another cookout and called all to eat. They had a variety of meals, including lamb kebab, chicken kebab, beef sausages, and mincemeat," Elhouli revealed.
The Australian Islamic Centre shared photographs of the women who volunteered and worked tirelessly for days to organize the fundraiser on its Facebook page, praising them for their hard work and dedication to the cause. "These sisters worked tirelessly to help organize aid for the bushfire appeal. Their work began on Friday noon, where they braved the heat to organize a sausage sizzle and raise money for the appeal; Alhamdullilah $1500 was raised. They then worked throughout Friday night sorting the much-needed items into different sections, getting them ready to load on to the trucks," the post reads.
"Saturday morning at 3 a.m., they were up and ready for the journey to the relief areas. They worked the whole day without complaint and showed genuine love and care in everything they did. No words can describe how proud we are of our sisters, may Allah reward you all. You are an inspiration to all," the center added.