On 24 March, Indian Australian Association of NSW Inc (INDAUS Inc) members, along with members of the community in Hills Shire, organised a hugely successful charity fund-raiser for Bundaberg Floods Victims, at Mother India Restaurant, Dural, raising $23,150.
Families and businesses in Bundaberg, who had only just started getting on top of things since the previous flood, had to watch again as their lives were upended and swept away by the Burnett River that raged with a ferocity that had never been seen before.
The floodwaters did recede as quickly as they rose but nothing could prepare the residents for what they found when they crossed back across the Burnett River – some houses had sunk into the ground, others were covered in mud so deep, bed lined in the trees roads turned up. The river turned Bundaberg into a war zone. However the spirit of faith, hope and love grew out of this disaster.
The idea for a fund-raiser was conceived in January, when INDAUS Inc president Dr Yadu Singh, broadcaster Gareth McCray, CEO of Australian Brewery & Bella Vista Hotel Ross Colossimo, Mother India restaurant owner Sanjeev Sharma, CEO of Hitek Australia Rajiv Chaudhri, his daughter Kanika Chaudhri, and Indian jewellery designer Poonam Verma had met for dinner at Mother India. The group wanted to give something back to the community.
The group, most of the them INDAUS Inc members, discussed the myriad disasters that had hit Australia since January.
“We realised that the Regional city of Bundaberg had been worst hit,” says Dr Singh. “It was suggested that we contact Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne, and see if she would agree to front a committee to raise some funds to help the people of Bundaberg. We did that and she agreed. A committee was constituted and potential sponsors were decided to run a special Charity Dinner at Mother India,” he adds.
The steering committee – constituted by all those present at the Mother India dinner – as well as Dr Michelle Byrne, Joseph Ishak from Skad Australia, Clr Jeff Lowe and the general manager of Castle Hill RSL David O’Neill began meeting on a weekly basis to plan the fund-raiser, which included day-time markets followed by lunch and a lavish dinner with entertainment, auctions and raffles. Entertainment was provided by singer Angie Dean and a local Bollywood dance group, organised by Mother India.
At $75 per person, it did not take long to fill the restaurant with 120 people. They enjoyed a three-course sumptuous dinner with beer and wine sponsored by The Australian Brewery, Australian Hotel Association & Castle Hill RSL.
Master of Ceremonies for the event was media personality Gareth McCray and auctioneer was Professor Jim Taggart, whose electrifying energy and enthusiasm helped in the collection of funds.
Salvation Army Officer from Bundaberg, Mr Peter Evans was flown down to Sydney to witness the event.
The items for auction included a cricket bat signed by national teams of Australia and UK (a bid that was won by INDAUS Inc Vice President Stanley D’Cruz, at $2000), jewellery worth $3500 from House of Fraser, and a necklace donated by Poonam Verma.
Apart from INDAUS Inc taking a key role in the project, Indian Australians worked together with the Hills Shire community and raised the money for people in Queensland who needed it so desperately.