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Members of the Nymboida community and Maclean Patchwork and Quilters with some of the 36 quilts which were gifted to those affected by the November bushfires.

Quilts warm the hearts of fire victims

Several members of the Maclean Patchwork and Quilters Group travelled to Nymboida Hall on Saturday to hand over 36 hand-made quilts to members of the community who were impacted by the horrific bushfire, last November.

The fire destroyed over 90 homes in and around the small village, and eight months on, the community are still struggling with a multitude of emotions as they endeavour to rebuild their homes and lives.

Eva Staehelin said that she lives on her 400-acre property which was impacted by the fire and lost a house, two sheds, and yards in the fire.
Although Eva still has the home that she was building (which escaped the fire), she went through a traumatic time and is still emotional and upset over what she has lost.

“I’m originally from Switzerland and my family would have been celebrating our 500th year of history this year except for COVID, and I had a lot of old stuff and I lost the lot,” Eva said.

“I remember receiving a shoe box filled with special goodies in it which were done up for the women as a Christmas present.

“To get something like this from someone you don’t even know – someone who has thought, ‘how can I make the day better for someone who is going through something a bit traumatic’. There were lots and lots of these little random acts of kindness.

“All these acts of kindness and help, I found was quite humbling.

“These quilts are a work of love and patience and it was nice that some of these ladies came down (to Nymboida) so that we could meet them.

“Sometimes when you think about it (what you’ve lost), you can get a bit down and I just think it’s really nice to have something that comes as a result of the fire, but it’s a positive.

“It’s nice to think that someone’s kindness has gone into making this for you, it’s more than just a quilt.

“I think this (fire) brought the community together too. They have always had groups that worked together but I think for me personally I got more involved with the community.

And we are living in Australia and there’s people who do it way tougher than us all around the world and do not get any help from anybody – so we need to keep that in mind too.

Another quilt recipient was Gaynor, who lost her home in the fire.

Gaynor said that she was really grateful for the time that these women have spent making the quilts.

“It’s great to think that people are still thinking of us eight months after the fire, Gaynor said.

“I know my new bedroom is going to be really beautiful with the quilt that I ended up with.

“It sort of touches my heart that an 80-year-old lady made it. The colours in it are browns and greens and it looked really old fashioned and I’m sort of looking forward to it being in my new room,” she said.

Secretary of the Maclean Patchwork and Quilters Sue Carl said that over the years the group have made many quilts for communities dealing with devastation.

“When we heard about the Nymboida fire, we thought what can we do to help them,” Sue said.

“The women had just started to make an assortment of quilts, when the COVID lockdown came into place and the quilters could no longer gather as a group (for their quilting days) and were forced to continue their quilt making from the isolation of their homes,” she said.

Over the last eight months these women have lovingly created these quilts to let the community of Nymboida know that they care, and they are not alone,” she said.