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Girl in a jacket

Elderly women sew mittens for fire-stricken koalas in Australia

A group of elderly women from Deventer, Netherlands, is sewing mittens for numerous koalas that have sustained injuries due to the bushfires in Australia.

Jeltje van Essen began making the mittens after seeing images of koalas’ burnt paws circulate online, as per SBS Dutch last Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Van Essen, who owns a fabric shop, was also asked by a certain Morgan Leigh from Byron Rescue Crafters to make the mittens.

Living far from Australia, Van Essen told the news outlet that she did not know the size of a koala’s paw. She was only able to get the accurate measurements for the mittens when Leigh posted the pattern online.

(Left) Jeltje van Essen sewing mittens with volunteers / A koala with burns from the Australian bushfires  (Images: Facebook/Jeltje van Essen, Koala Hospital Port Macquarie)

Upon obtaining the appropriate measurements, Van Essen did not waste time, immediately calling on a group of volunteers to help her make the mittens. 

“I have the time, I have the material and I have the people,” she was quoted as saying.

The injured animals appear to be a common concern in the Netherlands, as van Essen also handles contributions, phone calls and interview requests from all over the country. According to the report, the mittens van Essen and the other women create are more suitable for the injured koalas since they are made from cotton.

“Ordinary textiles contain plastic; our quilts are soft and will prevent infections,” she pointed out.

Aside from being made from soft materials, the mittens are adorned with beautiful Dutch fabric and patterns.

“I always want to have a smile on a face, and I know how hard it is to work with animals that are sick, or children that are sick,” Van Essen said in the report.

“If you then have a mitten with a pattern of a koala or another beautiful pattern, it generates a smile on a face. That’s what I hope for,” she explained. “So we have used the best cotton you can find with lovely fabrics.”

More than 400 pairs of mittens have since been made by the Dutch women, as per report. The mittens are set to be distributed to koala crisis centers in Australia by Van Essen’s niece Ingrid, who lives in Toowoomba City.

Besides mittens for injured koalas, Van Essen and the volunteers also sew cotton pouches for baby kangaroos that may not have access to their mother’s pouches.  /ra


Koala saved from Australian bushfires dies after burn injuries worsen

WATCH: Firefighters rejoice as rain falls on bushfire area in Australia

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