“The devastating bushfire on human and ecosystems in Australia calls on us all to give back to Australia beyond words of comfort.” This was alumnus Eric Ngang from Cameroon’s rallying call, urging Australia Awards–Africa alumni across the globe to support the victims of bushfires in Australia.
Alumni associations, individual alumni and scholars took the challenge by raising funds through a GoFundMe campaign. The alumni raised a total of 11,500 Australian Dollars through through this campaign and another initiative.
Under the umbrella “Alumni support for Australia wildfire relief,” the GoFundMe campaign was conducted between January – March 2020 and raised a total of 5,942 Australian Dollars. Additionally, the Australia Alumni Association of Nigeria raised USD 3,600 and presented a cheque to the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Claire Ireland.
The proceeds from GoFundMe was donated to The Salvation Army, an Australian charity organisation. “We identified the Salvation Army as the beneficiary of choice due to its holistic approach in alleviating suffering and confronting hardship and injustice. The relief funds will assist the charity work towards the devastating fires,” said Eric.
Alumni Associations from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and South Africa were amongst those that contributed to the Alumni Wildfire Relief. Individual alumni and scholars from other countries were also part of this initiative.
Speaking after the campaign, alumni and scholars cited the Australia-Africa partnership and the need to give back to the community as the primary motivation towards their contribution to the bushfires. “Giving back to the community is not just giving back to our Nation. Our support to bushfire was part of our giving back to the community of Australia that we feel a personal connection with,” said Mercy Abdullahi, chairperson of Nigeria Australia Alumni Association.
Scholar, James Makula from Uganda, was motivated by the videos of people who had lost all they had. “I saw devastating scenes and had to contribute to rescuing those Australians in pain. I feel I have accomplished part of my dreams here on earth by offering support to people to better their lives.”
Here is what some of our alumni and scholars had to say about the Alumni wildfire support.
Nompumelelo Radebe from the Australia-South Africa Alumni Association said, “This was a great opportunity for alumni to show gratitude to Australia for the role it has played in our lives. From friendships to education, to networks we established while in Australia, we can attest that going to Australia changed our lives, therefore, supporting the wildfire relief was the least we could do to show our gratitude to the people of Australia.”
Cedric Rajoelina from the Australia Alumni Association of Madagascar took pride in African alumni being part of this initiative. ‘For me, it was tangible evidence that we can make a difference, and I hope that Australia can always rely on our support’.
Valentine Nchinda, President of Cameroon Australia Alumni Association, cited the solidarity and friendship between Cameroon and Australia as a driving force behind their contribution to wildfire relief. His counterpart from Côte d’Ivoire Alumni Association, Martin Tiehe felt happy and proud to have been able to help by doing so freely and with much love, stating the enduring relationship between Australia and Côte d’Ivoire through Australia Awards as a contributory factor.
Scholars in Australia were not left behind, with Kennedy Gondwe from Zambia saying that he views Australia as his home while on scholarship. His colleague from Ghana Sylvester Kaminta felt that he represented an agent of change. “This indeed reinforced my voracious drive for supporting worthy causes such as this to effect change in communities.”
Reflecting on the success of the bushfire campaign, Afolashade Sandra Nwaobi from Nigeria said her donation was an expression of gratitude to the Australian government and people and to assure the bush fire victims that they were not alone. ‘I was happy to take part in the initiative and felt relieved that I could help’.
Through their donations to the bushfires, scholars and alumni felt a sense of belonging and fulfilment. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade applauds the alumni and scholars for their efforts as a true reflection of change agents and leaders in Africa and beyond.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons