Braidwood community spirit firm in face of adversity

St Bede’s Catholic Primary School Braidwood IEU Rep Ann Monkhouse recounts her community’s bravery in the face of bushfire threat.

The fire that had been slowly burning in the Tallaganda State Forrest began impacting Braidwood on Friday, 29 November.

It began threatening homes in the hamlets of Bombay and Little Bombay. Parents arrived in the early afternoon to pick up their children after having been evacuated from their homes.

During the next fortnight, many school families were affected and school was closed seven of the next 10 days.

On the days that St Bede’s was open, the students were kept inside and the children and staff were subdued, however the overriding sentiment was gratitude: for the firefighters, emergency services, our local radio station, 88.9 Braidwood FM and the community volunteers feeding these amazing men and women.

Through the adversity there was a culpable sense of community. During the first week of fires, many St Bede’s students volunteered at bushfire headquarters, helping to prepare snack packs to be sent to the fire grounds.

Many other families donated various foods and drinks to be added to these packs.

Mother Teresa Primary School in Canberra held a uniform free day and the donated funds were sent to us. This generous offer was initiated by the principal Peter Hughes, a former St Bede’s principal, and his present executive.

We hope to put these funds toward a significant performance or activity for the whole school soon.

Local author Jackie French (pictured) visited our school and donated a wide selection of her award winning literature for all students and staff affected by the fires.

When the St Bede’s students returned for 2020, they received a pack that contained a lunch box, drink bottle and stationary supplies.

These were put together by some of the Catholic school communities of Tuggeranong and South Woden, ACT. They have made enough packs for all students in all fire affected schools across the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese.
At the beginning of the school year, counselling provided by CatholicCare was available to any student, parent or staff member who wished to use this resource.
This fire came on the back of a drought, the likes of which senior locals cannot remember.

Many families, residing outside the town centre, are running dangerously low on water.

With town on level four water restrictions, water cannot be carted from town supplies.

This means water needs to be bought from Bungendore or Canberra, an expensive exercise.

Braidwood was moved on to level four water restrictions several weeks ago, after it became unable to pump from the Shoalhaven River, which had stopped flowing.

Braidwood is a resilient community and despite the challenges, we look forward to a year where we live, love and learn from the heart of Jesus.