Canberrans were grateful that with all the fires burning around them, they were spared (at least for now) from any major fires affecting them, as any that arose close to or in the city were very quickly brought under control.

For some the memories of the deadly and destructive 2003 fires that engulfed the western side of Canberra were all too stark.

Despite all the smoke and haze from the surrounding fires that had enveloped their city, Canberra’s Muslim community came out in force to lend a hand to those less fortunate in December.

Earlier in December, in concert with other members of the diverse ACT community, Muslims, through HelpingACT (www.HelpingACT.org), donated and collected funds and purchased much needed goods for Canberra’s needy, supplying breakfast hampers to Uniting Care, food and toys to Companion House, Vinnies and Salvos as well as directly to refugee families.

HelpingACT volunteers packing goods for bushfire victims.

Brothers’ and Sisters’ Support Groups came together frequently to lend a hand to isolated members of the community by undertaking general house and garden work, donate household goods or just to provide companionship.

Two of the Territory’s mosques, CIC Masjid Sabah Al-Ahmad and Gungahlin Mosque arranged Salatul-Istisqa (prayer for rain) after which there was a short deluge.

The Canberran Muslims stood out in their generosity in providing logistics, funds and goods for victims of the bushfires and the firefighters. Working with the Slabs for Heroes initiative, HelpingACT collected donations and then went and bought over $2500 worth of goods, including batteries, P2 masks and water which was then trucked to fire ravaged communities, particularly in the far south coast of NSW.

The Canberra Islamic Centre (CIC) organised breakfast for the south coast fire victims who had been evacuated to Queanbeyan and Canberra.

Additionally Gungahlin Mosque raised over $4000 through their Friday prayer attendance for the bushfire victims.

Volunteers, Muhammed and Behije Aksu, collect goods for bushfire victims with Coles Gungahlin’s Muhammad Rashid.

HelpingACT’s  work for bushfire victims and those in need, including refugees, victims of war and torture and the homeless is ongoing and relentless. It aims to bring together resources from the Muslim and other diverse communities to make a positive change.

To find out more about their activities, visit www.HelpingACT.org or email them on contact@helpingact.org.

You can donate directly to the HelpingACT bank account: BSB 112-908 Account 489 279 325.