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Humans of Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

A story from Kangaroo Island in South Australia, reflecting life in November 2020.

“After the fire many people would ask, ‘how are you going since the fire and what’s happening’ and after a while you just want to talk about something else for once, about something normal,” explained Sabrina Davis, creator of the Instagram and Facebook page, Humans of Kangaroo Island.

Sabrina, who is from Germany, has lived on Kangaroo Island for the past 12 years with her husband and two children. They lost everything in the Black Summer bushfires.

“I wanted to bring everyone back together, bring the community a little bit closer, so I decided to finally put this project together and make it a reality. I had been thinking about it for years, and I wanted to make it accessible to everyone so I made it a public Facebook page and called it Humans of Kangaroo Island,” said Sabrina. “I started to interview people in August and it became quite popular.”

When she first arrived on the Island the local newspaper, The Islander, had a column that would feature a photo and information about someone from Kangaroo Island, including their favourite places to visit on Island.

“I felt a little bit isolated because we live on the western end, the very remote end of the island, on a farm with barely any neighbours, and I didn’t know many people. The column in the paper helped me put some stories and background to some of the faces I’d meet at sport or in the supermarket. It made me feel a bit more connected.”

Sabrina said that although everyone knows everyone by sight on the island – it only has a population of 4,500 – you still don’t necessarily know much about each other.

“I just wrote down the names of people that I always wanted to find out more about or that intrigued me or who might have a fascinating story,” she said. “And then whenever I met up with someone they would say, ‘hey you should really interview this person or that person’ so my list kept growing.”

After making first contact, Sabrina asks if people want to take part in her project. Then, with the help of a set of questions, she finds out more about their lives and background. She then writes their story and accompanies it with a photo taken on interview day.

“Talking to other people about their lives brought a bit of normality back into my life as well – it’s become a big part of my mental recovery. I like telling stories but I also really like to somehow help the community in this unique way,” Sabrina said.

“I came up with the idea of using my Facebook page and the stories to support the farm fire fighters. These guys and gals gave so much last summer; they fought fires for 45 days in a row without a day off, some of them only slept three or four hours a night. They put their lives at risk and on hold for that time and I decided to give back. I figured if I could help in some way with my page, I wanted to.”

In November, Sabrina featured stories of local farm fire fighters.

“Farm fire fighters are the ones that have their own vehicles, their own unit and they have to buy their own equipment. Kangaroo Island is actually quite a large island, but we only have nine trucks of the Country Fire Service (CFS) which is not enough to cover the island when there is a fire like the one last summer. The farm fire units are a massive part of firefighting on Kangaroo Island, protecting people’s properties, assets and lives over here,” said Sabrina.

The farmers have to equip themselves out of their own pockets. Sabrina used the funds raised during November on her Instagram and Facebook to go towards buying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety clothing for these farm fire fighters.

“They go around and help any neighbour, anyone in need. Last summer, I used to say to my husband, ‘do you have to go?’ and every day he told me, ‘yes, I do. That’s just what we do here but if there is a fire at our place, everyone will come and help us here, too’,” she said.