The Willawarrin community was on its knees after the Carrai East fire ripped through their town on Friday November 8 but the generosity of four Muslim men has helped turn the tears of the residents into smiles.
Jawad Nabouche, Malek Eid, Omar Shmait and Talal Kanj had watched the media coverage of the terror of the NSW bushfires and the four good mates decided to join forces to provide lunch for an affected town.
After speaking with the Salvation Army, the quartet learned the Kempsey Shire had been a severely hit region and they made a plan to arrive at the Kempsey Showground evacuation centre last Saturday November 16.
They all chipped in money, with one friend donating $1500 alone, to buy much-needed supplies.
The crew packed up their car and trailer and departed Sydney at 5.45am bound for Kempsey with 400 sausages, 70 chops, 40 loaves of bread, onions, 100 packets of banana bread and muffins, 50 containers of salad and rice, boxes of fruit and 1500 bottles of water.
They arrived at the evacuation centre at around 11am, where they met with Kempsey mayor Liz Campbell and council director Robert Fish, who took them up to Willawarrin Hotel, so they could cook a barbecue lunch for those affected by the bushfires.
"Everyone was sitting out the front of the pub and we stood out quite a bit when we got out of the car," Mr Nabouche told the Argus.
"I could see them looking at us thinking 'who are these guys?', but we told them why we were there, we fired up the barbecue and they were extremely welcoming.
"By the end of the afternoon, everyone had been fed, we had shook everyone's hand and we were even taken on a tour of the town and saw some of the houses that were destroyed, it was incredibly emotional."
Mr Nabouche and his three close friends didn't seek media attention, they just wanted to help their fellow Australians in a time of need.
"This is our country and when the people of our country need help then we all should contribute in whatever way we can," Mr Nabouche said.
"My friends and I aren't able to fight fires but we can spend money and put on a feed, so that's what we did.
"We thought about donating money but for us it was important to be on the ground to show the people in person that we are there and that we care.
"We didn't want publicity, we wanted to put smiles on people's faces. We just wanted to do something to help people."
An overwhelmed Willawarrin Hotel owner Karen Anderson was moved by the kindness of the four strangers.
"To come up and do what they have done, we will always remember this," she said.
"This has meant a lot to the town. The fact they organised the food, got in the car and came up here because they wanted to help us speaks volumes.
"They could come back in 12 months time and people will remember them, they will be welcomed as family."
Mr Nabouche said seeing the destruction caused by the bushfire first-hand was heart-breaking.
"It was shattering to see the damage in person, it was very confronting," he said.
The four friends plan to provide another lunch for a regional community in the coming weeks.
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