Tathra School book will record children’s experiences of bushfire

Money raised by book lovers will go towards helping school pupils from Tathra write their own book about their experiences of the recent bushfire in the town. 

The fire destroyed 1250 hectares of land, 65 homes and 70 caravans or cabins in March, with Tathra Public School principal Lisa Freedman saying at least one of her pupils lost their house in the blaze, while others had family members who also lost their homes.

“Definitely a lot have been affected. Either their houses have been damaged; they’re all members of the community,” she said. 

It was decided to make a book on their experiences, which will be a historical compilation of stories in a chronological order with a focus on survival, recovery and positive community spirit.

“We thought it was important to do as a historical record, but also to give children an outlet to express their thoughts,” Ms Freedman said. 

On Tuesday, the Bega Rotary Club announced it would donate $3860 to Tathra Public for the project, with the funding coming from what was raised at the club’s book fair in July. 

“We see it as a very worthwhile project that is going to be implemented professionally with a total care of the children as a focus in helping them to move forward,” Bega Rotary president Marg Taylor said. 

As the funds came from money raised by people who attended and bought books at the group’s recent book fair, Ms Taylor said “in effect this is the community’s way of giving” to the school. 

The money will go towards employing a teacher and artist to assist the 15 pupils selected for the project, who will write, create artworks or both. 

Two of these pupils were Cooper Finnegan of Year 4 as well as Year 5’s Kiara Ferguson. 

Cooper said he would write about the day of the fires from his point of view, such as how the smoke was going over his house even though they were 7km away. 

“I might draw an illustration of when me and my sister were playing cards while my dad was watering the garden so if the wind changed direction it wouldn’t be as affected as much,” Kiara said. 

The school plans to release the book before the end of the year.