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BUSHFIRES How you can help

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

The stories of suffering and loss are almost overwhelming ...



More than 150,000 evacuations and almost 1500 homes lost so far - and we're not even halfway through summer. But please read on ... because you can do something to help. This is not happening somewhere else in the world, it's happening right here - to a friend or a friend of a friend ... so there's no need to feel powerless. Let's just take one story from the thousands and offer some financial assistance, so that your generous parcel of goodwill can carry forward to help many ...

The photos above show Milena Cifali and Jim Horvath's home in Mallacoota on the Victorian coast, destroyed on New Years Eve. As if it wasn't bad enough that Jim had already suffered two strokes in late November and early December ...

Milena and Jim, known as 'The Awesome Duo', are talented musicians and bird lovers ... and they've not only lost their home, they've lost their dear animal and bird friends.

Mates and companions, and Jim with his beloved Elmo, a wild kookaburra who adopted him - birds now lost in the fire.

To make a donation to Milena and Jim, you can click here on Go Fund - or use the contact button at to send an enquiry and we’ll get back to you.

Milena wrote a prose poem to try to reach some understanding of, and share with others, her tremendous sense of loss from the fires. 'It's unfathomable that our leader (the Prime Minister) and others are still in denial about the severity of this climate situation. Somehow I feel angry, and helpless; if action had been taken much sooner, I and others might still have a home.'

The phone rang.

He told us we had lost our home:

‘I’ve been for a drive, I’m still alive.

My home is gone and so is yours’.

Engulfed in flames

on New Year’s Eve.

Just too hard to believe ...

How do I say goodbye

to our ancient tree

that held so many birds

safe in its arms?

How do I say goodbye

to a koala, our koala: Aristotle,

sheltered in his crook.

The birds. Our birds!

A glimpse of golden light

in the western sky,

and then

gelato colours,

softest pinks and blues,

Mallacoota hues ...

fading to dark

revealing glittering stars

above Mallacoota waves,

on the cool night balcony

the salt air wrapping it’s gentle breezes around us ... and caressing our souls.

How do I say goodbye

to a nighttime visit from our possum friend, who gave us possum hugs?

Is he alive? Did he survive?

My heart beats in time with

this forest and this sea.

How can it be

that I must say goodbye

to this paradise?

I can always buy a new toaster,

a kettle, a cup, a plate,

but it’s too late, too late

to sit together on our old blue couch, on our verandah

and watch the rainbow lorikeets frolic,

or play guitar in the morning sun

and with friends on a full moon night.

Wherever I may roam I may create a new home,

but this sense of place has gone.

This was our Mallacoota magic.

Now tragic ...


For further information, here's Milena & Jim's website:

And their Facebook page:

Our thanks to those who have already contributed a substantial sum, which allowed Milena and Jim to move out from friends and begin renting a space of their own. Their Go Fund is now closed but you can still donate to the Red Cross, which still has plenty more helping to do.

For a general donation to the Red Cross bushfire fund you can go to or on twitter or call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) M-F 9 am - 5 pm AEDT.


Milena's latest addendum to the poem reflects her newfound strength:

Our homes are piles of ash

but we will rebuild.

Our gardens are piles of ash

but we will replant.

Our hearts are made of ash

but they will reform.

We are made of ash

but we will return.

We will begin anew.


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Yes, the response from general readers has been so heartening. We all wish them the best ...


Jan 23, 2020

What a great article and a powerful poem about loss - so heartbreaking. I really do hope they rise from the ashes somehow after losing everything they held dear with the support of the Go Fund Me campaign.


I was supposed to come to Mallacoota to Mileyna and Jim’s house. Now I don’t know what to do, but I will support them!!


Thanks for your support Sharon. I think we’re only now recognising the terrible toll on our wildlife.


Jan 07, 2020

My heart aches for these beautiful musicians, and also for Elmo, Aristotle and all of the other furred and feathered residents of Mallacoota. Thanks for sharing this story, Christine, and thanks to poet John Passant for setting up the Go Fund Me campaign. I hope lots of readers donate X

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