A local effort has been started to raise funds for firefighters battling devastating wildfires and those impacted by the infernos that have been ravaging Australia for weeks.
Royal Palms Beach Club is set to hold a raffle this weekend, as well as a candlelight vigil to raise money for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief and World Wild Life Australia.
The fundraising effort is called the Australian Bushfire Raffle and it takes place on Saturday from 5-9pm.
Darren Baber, RPBC operations manager, told the Cayman Compass they are hoping to raise $10,000 and the funds will be split between the two charities.
He said the effort has been receiving positive support.
“We will be partnering with Kalo Advisors on the day who will be hosting a solidarity candlelit walk (starting at 5pm) in support of Australian relief efforts to finish at Royal Palms also,” he said.
Baber, who is an Australian citizen, said the RPBC team is counting on the generosity of all in Cayman to help those battling the fires, which are at crisis levels.
“It’s hard to understand the scope of this devastation from afar, our cities are covered in smoke and there are thousands of people losing homes and our wildlife populations are becoming extinct from this event. The best we can do is assist those who are devastated the most. We have a strong Australian contingent of employees at Royal Palms and hopefully we have a platform that can be used for helping others who need friends and family the most from close and afar,” Babel said.
He added that many local Aussies have family and friends directly affected by this ongoing disaster.
“There are an estimated 480 million animals that have been affected by these fires and at least 30% of Koala populations in New South Wales have been lost. These fires are so large that they are mostly unstoppable. But there are people that are trying and we want to help them,” Baber said.
The fires have scorched 12.5 million acres so far.
The Associated Press reported on Sunday said the fires have burned an area twice the size of the US state of Maryland. The destroyed land stretches across Australia’s southeast quadrant, its most densely populated.
“The fires have killed at least 24 people, including a 47-year-old man who died Saturday night while trying to defend a friend’s home from encroaching flames. Nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed,” the report said.
The AP report said New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported 150 fires were active in the state, 64 of them uncontrolled.
“The Red Cross supports a variety of efforts such as supporting people at evacuation centers and providing emergency assistance like cash grants to people who have lost their homes. Bush fires are burning across critical koala habitat and a large number of koalas are believed to have perished across key sites such as Port Macquarie and the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Many others will have been left homeless and likely suffering from smoke inhalation or burns,” Baber added.
According to a post on RPBC Facebook page donations are also being sought from local businesses to contribute prizes that will be raffled on the night of the event.
The event will also feature live music from Riaan Smit.