Many years ago when my children were young and the birth of a new sibling was close, we read “Koala Lou,” a beloved children’s book by an extraordinary Australian writer, Mem Fox.
In the story, a young koala anticipates the birth of a sibling and navigates all the accompanying feelings.
My children adored it and often asked for “Koala Lou” at bedtime.
Today, I lead an organization with a warehouse filled with donated medical supplies. When we started to learn about the extent of the Australian fires, I realized we needed to help the wildlife in Australia.
We identified pallets of soon-to-expire supplies that matched the medical needs of Australian veterinarians, and we created a plan to help the koalas, with the dearness of “Koala Lou” in mind.
Our contact who would receive the supplies in Australia spent 24/7 rescuing animals from fires. Suddenly, she lost her phone and disappeared from our radar. That’s when Afya’s faithful magic appeared.
I ran into an Australian man in New York City, and during our conversation, he asked how he could help his home country’s animals.
I responded, “You can help us help the koalas!” Within 24 hours, he put a plan together.
When the supplies arrived in Melbourne, his connection transported them to the Victoria Zoos
Thousands of pounds of wound care supplies, ace wraps, and more were delivered to Zoos Victoria, where medical professionals are treating injured and burned animals.
They sent us the following note:
“During the recent Australian bushfires, hundreds and hundreds of animals – from koalas to Tawny Frogmouths – were treated by Zoos Victoria staff across emergency veterinary triage units throughout Victoria, Australia. Animals with burns to their feet, bodies, and mouths required specialized treatment, pain relief, dressing and bandages, and many will need long-term care before they can be released back to the wild.
Other animal survivors were treated for dehydration or starvation, with their habitats and food sources destroyed by the fierce bushfires. It is likely that these animals will need support for many years while their homes recover.
Afya was one of the organizations that was able to quickly send us veterinary supplies, such as IV lines to use. Knowing that there are people overseas who care about our animals and have our backs has been truly uplifting. The support from the global community has been incredible.”
I am truly amazed by our community’s ability to work together to help the most vulnerable, and I am reminded of Mem Fox’s words: “Koala Lou, I do love you.”
– Danielle Butin, MPH, OTR, Founder and CEO of the Afya Foundation