Giving 'tender loving care'

THE generosity of Northern Rivers locals towards fire-ravaged victims of Victoria has made a huge impression, according to Red Cross Northern Region manager Vahideh Hosseini.

For the past week, Mrs Hosseini has worked in Whittlesea, Kinglake and Kinglake West, at the heart of the bushfire tragedy, training volunteers to comfort and counsel victims of the bushfires.

Today she flies home to visit the flooded valleys around Bellingen and Thora to continue her good work.

But among the many things burned into her memory, Mrs Hosseini said the people of those devastated townships were 'so grateful, so amazed at the heart of Australians towards their plight'.

“At every community meeting I've been to there has been a huge round of applause for the generosity of Australians,” she said. “You just can't believe how grateful these people are.”

Mrs Hosseini emigrated from Iran, through India, 20 years ago as a persecuted member of the Baha'i faith. Her father lost his business, but escaped. But all male members of her family who remained in Iran have been killed.

Mrs Hosseini understands the need for empathy in the face of heartache and trauma.

The key to her success on the ground in Victoria has been to listen, hard and carefully, to the many outpourings of human emotion.

“It is important that we allow people plenty of time to chat about their experiences,” she said. “We offer no advice, we make no promises. We simply provide tender loving care and support to people affected. In times of trauma people's emotions take over their thinking. We help balance that.

“And I feel honoured and blessed to give back what people have given me all those years ago.”

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