I’ll give you the short story and the long story! The short story is that on January 22nd 2018 an earth moving driver found a fire had started in the communal kitchen/dining/living block of Mum’s place on a property in Wang Wauk, NSW. The RFS and many neighbours turned up to help but sadly the building couldn’t be saved. Fortunately, the fire was contained to one building and no one was injured. However, the loss is still felt.
Now for the long story…
About 3 years ago lovely Lionie Hunt (#mum) packed up her belongings in Newcastle. She moved up to Wang Wauk, NSW which was closer to her sick father in Forster. With her trusty friend Renee (and between them their three teenage boys) they took on an extraordinary project of buying an off the grid block of land, becoming home builders and pulling on all their connections to build a place that was destined to serve the community. Yes, read that sentence again – my mum bought an OFF THE GRID land and started a SELF BUILD for the first time in her life!! And this isn’t just any kind of build. It’s some kind of super ego friendly, love to the world, things that I don’t understand kind of build. At a mature age (I’m not giving a number) I think it’s insane to be taking on not just a new build but a build that has such cutting edge systems. So they bought a bunch of tools, ordered lots of steel, spent way too much time on Google and the project was underway! Throughout the whole build Mum has always talked about the many generous people that have helped along the way. She is constantly showing me pictures of her non-builder friends doing crazy builder things! The buildings that are on her and Renee’s property are not only a reflection of their hard work but the hard work of a much wider community. Mum affirms that Little Gem wouldn’t have been possible without the countless people that have been involved. I don’t want to list names because it’d be impossible not to miss someone. But if I can say an over whelming thank you to those who have played a part in Little Gem. Words aren’t enough for your support.
Those in the local Buddhist and home school community would testify that Mum devotes herself to serving people. She encourages me to see that “some work isn’t paid in money”. Moreover, Mum isn’t one to ask for help unnecessarily. I think since she has taken on the building project she is learning how much stronger people are when they work together. Since the fire, there has been an overwhelming response from people – both in the local area and beyond. During the fire there were issues getting water on the property (plus the water tank melted!) and I’m told that neighbours were trying to wheel water up the hill! Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was contained to only one building (thank you amazing team and RFS!!). But on the contrary, due the unique zoning, the building couldn’t been insured until the plumbing was finished (which was a matter of weeks away). There were many tools and building supplies in the room on top of the extensive personal belongings. Mum isn’t concerned about the physical things that were lost, though many were sentimental. But she does want to carry on with the original vision of Little Gem to become a place that’s available to support the community.
It will take time to rebuild and no doubt it will take many hands. This page is being set up simply as a way people can help make a difference. No one is obliged to give in this way. The kind words, offers of fridges and willingness to lend a hand have already been overwhelming and gratefully received. All funds will go to restoring what was and any additional funds will be sourced back into the community. After the fire Mum was talking about how quickly things in life can change. What we have one minute may be gone the next. Mum when all of this is done, I think I’ll get you a plaque “stronger together”. It’s true when they say many hands make light work. Each little bit adds up into a great whole! I hope that in the future Little Gem can be rebuilt into something even better. You may have lost a building but I can see you’re already finding something greater in people.
The fire blazing.
Burnt out communal kitchen
Remains of the kitchen goods
Side of the building
Sunset before the fire.
- Kay Degan
- Rhonda Smith
- amanda beed
- Karen Rodgers
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