This past weekend, over 400 people gathered around Townsville to be part of the Restore Townsville Project. The effort to clean up the city and bring peace of mind to homes buried in debris was headed up by the city council and a fair chunk of YWAM volunteers.
Of the many volunteers were the October DTS outreach teams, manned with rakes, clippers, chainsaws and smiles. Half of the outreach team was on the ground, going house to house, giving a helping hand to people who couldn’t move trees and debris themselves.
“Most people said there was no way they could have cleaned up their yard on their own,” said a DTS student. “They were very appreciative of all the help. It brought hope as they saw their yards restored. Many conversations about our faith were opened because of the clean-up.”
Another Student, Brittany Spelman, remarked on the community of Townsville. “Being involved with the community in a time when they really needed help was amazing. Seeing the destruction that happened to the city and then how people came together to help one another showed me what kind of city Townsville is.”
While many on the team were cleaning up, the others manned the Call Centre, where people in need could register for help and talk to real people. Many YWAM volunteers were astonished at how many people just needed to be heard.
“Working the call centre was the perfect opportunity to simply be a listening ear to people who were so worried,” said one of the students on call. “I had calls that started off with tears and just by listening and assuring them of the help we could bring, they ended the call with a sense of relief and calm.”
Over 700 calls were lodged at the centre over the weekend, people desperate for help from the volunteers. The YWAM volunteers, city councillors and local leaders were able to make a considerable difference in the damage left by Cyclone Yasi. While the cleanup will continue for a while, the city and life around Townsville is slowly returning to normal.