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 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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Kelly Eastwood has certainly missed her too.

“It’s been a week of disbelief and heartbreak I’m sad to say. While visiting my family in Victoria, I received a phone call from a Channel 9 journalist that our good friend Zomi, from World Central Kitchen had been killed in Gaza in an air strike. What followed was two days of non stop interviews, hounding press and a news crew in my Mother’s kitchen. It’s been intense, and so, so very sad. My old friend Dora who also worked with Zomi over the years with WCK also felt the relentless pressure from the media. It was incredibly tough speaking publicly, but I hope that it took the heat off Zomi’s family as they dealt with this very tragic loss. Since the news, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole and found articles and photos I wish I hadn’t seen, I have found it hard to sleep and I just can’t wrap my head around why this happened. There were three cars carrying WCK humanitarian aid workers that were roughly 1.8 kms apart, and one by one they were directly targeted – despite the fact that that it was a ‘designated safe zone’, that they had huge, colourful WCK stickers on the roof of their cars, and that the Israeli army were fully aware of their co-ordinates.
For anyone that doesn’t know who World Central Kitchen are, they are the Not-for-profit organisation that took over my kitchen during the Black Summer Fires and helped deliver 46,322 meals from Mogo to Mallacoota. Zomi was one of the first on the ground during the fires and she was hugely instrumental in co-ordinating the mammoth task of delivering HOT food to places that the army hadn’t even found, with 270 volunteers – all funded solely by WCK. At the time of our fires WCK were also attending to another 12 natural disasters around the world.
My heart hurts. These people are GOOD PEOPLE.
Zomi, I wish you could have seen the affect you had on the people you helped, and heard the countless stories of gratitude from our community for everything you did for us.
RIP Zomi. Not all angels have wings. xx”

Lisa Herbert10:08 am 10 Apr 24

Thank you Seán, yes Kelly and I have been speaking a lot and remembering Zomi. She always struck me as someone who was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing here on the planet.

cannedbeeria5:19 pm 04 Apr 24

I think it’s about time thoses countries supplying weapons to Israel were called out. Hopefully that would stop the BS.

Such a tragedy and loss of a beautiful person. It shouldn’t happened.

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