Hi, my name is Emily (aka The Home Alchemist),
Welcome to my project for disaster survivors and their friends…
Within 10 hours on 18th January 2003, 4 people had died and over 500 homes were destroyed when a ferocious fire storm impacted residential areas in Canberra, ACT AUSTRALIA.
My parents home was in one of the worst affected streets, directly across from a large pine tree plantation. With no warning or comprehension of what was about to happen we were forced to flee in a car. Within minutes both sides of the road were alight and we knew we would be lucky to get out alive – thankfully we did however, my parent’s home, their two cars and all of their belongings were destroyed.
As a feng shui consultant and teacher, I had a long time passion for ‘home’ and what it meant to people. On this day everything changed, as I mentally grappled with what ‘tools’ would help those who’d been affected and become physically and/or emotionally ‘suddenly homeless’.
I started by researching the term ‘homelessness’ and discovered that Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Program defined it as:
‘An inadequate experience of connectedness with family and or community’
I was fascinated and somewhat impressed, that there was no reference to a physical dwelling or structure.
It confirmed my belief that even amidst great adversity and loss, people can have a still sense of home, so long as they have resilient community connections and the right support. With these in place, they also have a strong foundation on which to build their new life.
For over 10 years under the banner of ‘Suddenly Homeless: The Journey Home Project’, I connected with other bushfire and natural disaster survivors. However others also reached out – people who’d experienced personal disasters such as the loss of a loved one, divorce or health challenges (to name a few) and had resonated with the message I was sharing. It was clear that many people are on a journey home from trauma, grief and loss.
I started to reassess my project and what I was trying to actually achieve. Turned out it’s quite simple….I wanted to bring people, particularly disaster survivors HOPE.
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.
If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. – Thich Nhat Hanh
I want to bring people HOPE that they can and someday WILL feel at home in themselves, their life and this world again. I truly believe that when people have this kind of hope, they can achieve anything!
It felt like time to refresh the project and start anew as ‘HERE COMES HOPE’.
To spread this message I’m currently working on a podcast where I’ll share insights and tips from my own journey (including how I recovered from PTSD). I’ve also written a children’s book based on two unique characters Disaster and Hope. It’s a story for ALL ages and I am really looking forward to sharing it.
In the meantime, you can join my fb group for disaster survivors and friends at:
There is also a fb group specifically for survivors of the 2003 Canberra Firestorm at:
Whatever has brought you here, I pray that ‘home’ is always a safe and sacred word to you, and that Hope is always by your side…
Lots of love,
ps – we’ve also had an on-going blanket project for disaster survivors inspired by the 2003 #WrapUpCanberra project. Please see the Blanket page to learn more.
I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.
I pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging and appreciate them sharing this land, their home….with me.