3 April 2024

Zomi Frankcom was a victim in Gaza and a hero to Black Summer bushfire victims

| Lisa Herbert
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woman in kitchen

Zomi Frankcom during the Black Summer fires of 2019-20. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

In January 2020 I met a bunch of extraordinary people. They’d set up base in Kelly Eastwood’s cafe kitchen in Bermagui and were helping cook and deliver food to bushfire victims on the Far South Coast.

One of those people was the very beautiful Lalzawmi ’Zomi’ Frankcom. She was working for the charity World Central Kitchen (WCK), which said seven of its international aid workers were killed by an air strike this week helping deliver food and other supplies to northern Gaza.

The seven killed were from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, a dual United States-Canadian citizen and Palestine. I know I wouldn’t have been alone as I held my breath when I heard this news.

The Australian was Zomi.

It was Zomi, fresh from a trip to Japan, who taught me to tap feet or elbows instead of shaking hands or hugging, due to a thing called COVID-19, back in 2020.

I’ll never forget that moment, the first I had considered COVID might find its way here. That is the moment I captured in the photo you see here.

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Zomi loved her job. She was passionate and positive. She really inspired me, showed me that you can choose a life helping others on an international scale.

And she taught me that it was necessary. Ever spruiking the work of WCK, she told me of conflicts and floods, tsunamis and earthquakes. You could see she had found her calling – feeding people in need.

That this organisation was from the US didn’t matter, they were here helping out, and it was so local and heartfelt at the time.

This is what WCK did and do, and what they helped an amazing crew of local volunteers from Kelly Eastwood’s kitchen do here, too, at the height of our crisis. They helped prepare and deliver thousands of meals to those who needed them. Delicious meals, prepared with love and care.

It was genuinely appreciated by hundreds of our local bushfire victims, all along the coast. I know because people told me. (I was working as a journalist for Region‘s About Regional at that time.)

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The world in which Zomi died is not a world I accept. These are adult humans, politicians and military people, apparently mature, educated, highly organised, highly sanctioned, behaving in a way we teach our children not to.

There is something very wrong with the humans ‘in charge’.

This might sound overly emotional to you. However, pretending everything’s OK might also be an incorrect response to the things we see on our news feeds, particularly right now, and particularly given the killing of a wonderful, caring person, who was there to help.

I felt so close to my community during that Black Summer of bushfires. I loved the idea that WCK was here, caring for our community.

And it’s what Zomi was doing in that Gazan community, so far away from us … exactly the same thing.

Lisa Herbert is a Bega writer and broadcaster.

Original Article published by Lisa Herbert on Riotact.

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