Summary

Letter and paper hearts sent to the patients at The Alfred Burns Unit after the bushfires of February 2009.

In the days after Black Saturday, during which 173 people died and thousands were injured or left homeless, people all over Victoria and Australia were moved to express their sympathy. Many of them directed messages of support to the emergency services, including the Burns Unit at The Alfred hospital.

Langmeil Lutheran Church is set in Tanunda, in the heart of the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Although no one had a direct connection to any of the victims or survivors of Black Saturday, people in the church community were greatly moved by the stories and images portrayed in the media. They prayed for the victims and their families, then decided they would like to do something more tangible. The children's and youth groups in the church made these paper hearts and sent them to the Burns Unit at The Alfred with the hope that they could be placed around the unit to let the patients and their families know that prayers were being said for their recovery.

Physical Description

The letter and gifts consist of: A4 sheet of white paper folded in 4 with a computer-printed image on the front of a dove holding an olive branch and encircled by a rainbow. Heart shape cut out of patterned pink paper with lettering in blue ink and a red heart drawn at the bottom. Laminated. Heart shape cut out of patterned pink paper with lettering in blue ink and a red heart drawn at the bottom. Laminated. Heart shape cut out of patterned pink paper with caLligraphic lettering in blue ink and three red hearts drawn amongst the letters. There is a clear address sticker and a green heart on the reverse. Laminated. Heart shape cut out of patterned pink paper with lettering in blue ink and a red heart drawn at the bottom. Laminated. Heart shape cut out of patterned pink paper with lettering in blue ink and a red flower with green leaves drawn at the bottom. Laminated.

Significance

These gifts were among many that were received by The Alfred hospital in the days following the bushfires of February 2009. People around the world responded to the crisis with donations of money and material aid but they also wanted to express personal messages of hope and support directly to the people involved. The Burns Unit, as one of the major hospital services receiving victims of the bushfires, was swamped with cards, letters and gifts not only for the patients but also for the staff of the Unit. This collection illustrates the power of the media in conveying the effects of the fires, but more importantly it demonstrates people's need to connect directly with the victims and their carers, regardless of whether they even knew their names.

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