Victoria’s Afghani Hazara community gathered recently in Dandenong to support East Gippsland bushfire victims.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said as the bushfire emergency unfolded, she was contacted by her former Mirboo North Secondary College student, Afghani refugee Daniel Lomani.
“During my teaching career Daniel was one of my outstanding Chemistry and Mathematics students, and we have maintained a friendship during his tertiary studies.
“While Daniel is no longer living in the area, he has maintained strong connections in Gippsland,” said Ms Bath.
“The Victorian Afghani Hazara community were moved by the significant loss and grief experienced in East Gippsland and wanted to help.
“Daniel sought my advice on where the Hazara community could direct their donations.
“I had no hesitation in recommending Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF), Gippsland’s not for profit emergency relief organisation.”
Ms Bath said in only ten days the Hazara community raised a jaw dropping amount of money for Gippsland’s bushfire victims.
“Arriving at the Doveton Community Hall I had no idea of the amount of money the Hazara community were donating, and during the evening the tally continued to rise.
“To learn the final donation to GERF was in excess of $133,000 with a further $22,500 provided for Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) was extraordinary.
“It was heart warming and humbling to have this level of support provided to our Gippsland community and valued CFA.”
During the evening, Ms Bath addressed the Hazara community, sincerely thanking them on behalf of all Gippslanders.
Ms Bath said a bond has been forged between two Australian communities through a shared understanding, overwhelming kindness and one former Gippsland secondary student.
“I cannot thank Daniel and the Hazara community enough for their exceptional generosity and the empathy they provided.
“Bushfire recovery is a complex and often difficult process, the Hazara community’s donation will actively assist many East Gippsland families and individuals commence healing and move forward.”