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Sewing for joeys

A wallaby licks its burnt paws after escaping a bushfire on the Liberation Trail near the township of Nana Glen on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales in mid-November. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

KAREN COLTMAN
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A Wairarapa Facebook page started a couple of days ago by a Wellington woman has gained interest here as more and more local women sew pouches for marsupials injured, burnt or motherless because of the Australian bushfires.

School teacher Amanda Barber started the New Zealand branch of the Animal Rescue Craft Guild and set up Facebook pages for four areas of the country because she felt “isolated and overwhelmed but wanted to connect people”.

Sisters Courtney Stewart [foreground] and Casey Duckett-Mount sewing pouches for baby kangaroos [joeys], koalas and bats burned and motherless after the Australian bushfires. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN
Courtney Stewart, 26, and her sister Casey Duckett-Mount, 23, have had their sewing machines going nonstop in Lansdowne this week to make as many pouches as possible before Friday.

They will be sewing for the rest of the week alongside running their business, fruit and vegetable store, Belle Fresca.

Australians are fostering many of the injured animals to get them back into health and this means carrying them around in pouches and becoming a surrogate parent.

“The team here at Belle Fresca are deeply saddened and heartbroken for our neighbours in Australia at this terrible time,” the pair said in a Facebook post.

“We want to do our best to help so we will have a donation box in store and are sending hand crafted pouches, mittens and wraps for the animal rescue teams to help heal and provide a home for the animals affected by this tragedy. Australia, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Courtney’s 18-month old daughter was with her nan on Tuesday so she could focus on sewing.

“I don’t watch much news these days, but these fires really got me upset,” Stewart said.

“I needed to do something to help these poor animals. They are saying over half a billion critters in the wild have died.

“Thousands and thousands of kangaroos, koala bears, snakes, lizards, birds and bats are coming out of the burning bush looking for water and many are severely injured. They need these little beds to feel safe.

“An Auckland lady has connected with us on the Belle Fresca page and offered to take all the Wairarapa sewing over to Australia early next week. So, we need all the joey pouches to us by the end of the week.”

The ‘Animal Rescue Craft Guild – NEW ZEALAND Division Wairarapa’ is the Facebook page people can get information about the right fabrics for the pouches and the sewing patterns.

The guild is also making birds’ nests and wraps for injured bats.

The pouches can be dropped off to Belle Fresca, 101a High St, Solway, Masterton.

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