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(SDN) — YES, let us send our love Down Under!

For Australia is burning; and Australians are battling a conflagration lit by a lethal trio of “extreme heat, prolonged drought and strong winds,” United Kingdom’s The Telegraph said.

In an article authored by Sarah Newey, the paper said as of January 7 that the wildfires claimed the lives of 17 people, destroyed more than 1,200 homes, and razed to the ground 5.5 million hectares or 13.5 million acres of land. (Doubtless the death and home figures have increased already.)

Hundreds of millions of animals have perished and the wildfires continue to consume everything on its path — a recipe for an ecological disaster.

Imagine, the suffering of people dying from fire; think of the pain animals are going through — kangaroos, koalas, cockatoos, and many other living things.

No one deserves death by fire.

Planet Earth has grown small especially with the era of the digital making the world one small community or neighborhood. Each person to another just a click away of the PC mouse, or keyboard. Though one person is thousands of miles away in physical distance that person is only inches away virtually.

So, let us send our love to Australia.

To paraphrase the poet John Dos Pasos, one man’s death diminishes us all.

Australia has been a strong partner of the  Philippines, the two countries’ bilateral relations as strong as ever.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) noted its aid program to the Philippines, such as Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2018-2019 at an estimated $82.8 million; 2019-2020, an estimated bilateral budget of $63.7 million; and an estimated $79.7 million for 2019-2020 ODA.

DFAT described the Philippines as “one of Australia’s longest-standing bilateral relationships that is supported by strong people-to-people links.”

Australia is no stranger to helping boost the peace process in Mindanao.

Its Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao Program rolled for more than eight years; concluding only in 2017. The program contributed to the development of education quality in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), now replaced by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Australia, love, send, wildfires, Tasmania, koala, animals
AUSTRALIAN Ambassador Stephen J. Robinson AO during his visit in March 2019 to embattled Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as he delivered a pack of hope in the amount of Php140 million additional assistance. (Photo: Courtesy of Australian Embassy)

The program:

  • contributed to 5.71 mean percentage increase on assessment test scores for Grade 3 students in the core subjects of math, science, reading and grammar in English and Filipino
  • trained more than 12,000 teachers in teacher skills and capacity development
  • installed almost 2,000 school handwashing units to improve health and hygiene in the program supported schools
  • contributed to the enrolment of about 54,000 children in the alternative delivery model learning centres in locations with limited or no access to regular schools
  • supported over 50 madrasahs to implement a regular national secular curriculum and achieve management standards allowing them to access sustainable government funding
  • provided various school facilities and resources including constructed and rehabilitated 230 classrooms and refurbished and stocked 300 libraries.

On March 17, 2019, Australia’s top diplomat in the Philippines, Ambassador Stephen J. Robinson AO announced an additional Php140 million assistance for the Marawi Recovery Project. He made the announcement during his visit to the war-torn Islamic City of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The new funding increased the Australian government’s assistance to Marawi to Php1.2 billion, the Australian Embassy said.

Though Robinson, Australia renewed its commitment to help the displaced people of Marawi to get back on their feet after the May 2017 conflict.

Again, let us send our love to Australia and Australians and all those affected by the wildfires.

Doubtless, Australians are resilient and they will overcome; but just wishing them well will mean a lot. (SDN)

Featured image of map of Australia courtesy of OpenSource.com.

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