BRISBANE’S East Timorese Catholic Community has reached out to help people from their homeland who lost their possessions in a recent Bundaberg fire.
Lita Barreto, who is secretary and treasurer of the Brisbane group, and fellow community members drove to Bundaberg two weekends ago in two cars loaded with donations for the survivors of the fire.
The Timorese seasonal workers were among more than 60 people who escaped the fire that engulfed the Spotted Dog Tavern and Federal Backpackers Hostel.
The temporary visa holders remain stranded in Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
When Ms Barreto heard of their plight she immediately sent out a call to her community members on social media asking for help and there was a quick response.
“A few families donated food, clothes and some blankets, as well as money,” she said.
“The people who donated were saying ‘We know how it feels to have nothing’.
“So on (the following) Saturday me and a group of friends we took the donations to Bundaberg.”
Apart from the donated goods, the group handed over $700 in cash, including $500 given by one family.
“Plus we took food, clothes, blankets, toiletries, and all the basic necessities for them,” Ms Barreto said.
“They thanked us a lot.
“They were just so grateful, very grateful.”
The Timorese workers included eight men and two women of varying ages.
“They came from Timor to Melbourne to work but because of COVID-19 they moved to Queensland and they went to Bundaberg,” Ms Barreto said.
“They had been in Bundaberg only two weeks when the place where they were staying burned down.
“They’re still stuck but they have a place to stay (and) they’re also very grateful to the community there.
“The Bundaberg community has helped them.
“They’re stuck in Australia because of COVID-19 but the good thing is that they have a job.
“They’re still working.”