A Powerful Testimonial On The Impact Of A Drought And Fire Relief Global Grant … Within Australia!
Article by PDG Janne Speirs, Assistant Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator
Recently, in completing a progress report for one of the drought and fire relief Global Grants, I received this letter from one farming couple which highlights for me, in a powerful way, the reason why, as Rotarians, we serve ANYONE who is in need, internationally or within our own communities.
This letter is a powerful testimony as to why we do what we do…
Much of Eastern Australia suffered for years under drastic drought conditions up to 2019, when in September 2019 devastating fires hit many of the same regions. East Gippsland was one area to suffer under this ‘double whammy’.
With an incredibly generous offer by an anonymous benefactor and support from numerous sources, including RI Staff members, District 9820 was able to sponsor Global Grants for drought and fire relief for many farmers within the East Gippsland region.
Recently, in completing a progress report on one of the Grants, I received this letter from one farming couple which highlights for me, in a powerful way, the reason why, as Rotarians, we serve ANYONE who is in need, internationally or within our own communities.
This letter is a powerful testimony as to why we do what we do….
(I have removed names, otherwise the letter is printed in full – with the author’s permission).
“Rotary Clubs around our area have been fully supportive during the 4 years of debilitating drought and also our Bushfire recovery period (Dec 2019 - to recent 2021) in our region.
We would, in particular, like to thank the amazingly hard workers and selfless people (local Rotarians) We would like to extend our gratitude to … and the many others behind the scene who have worked tirelessly to bring aid to our farming districts. In particular we would like to thank any and all (International) Rotary Clubs involved in the Rotary Foundation Global Grant – of which we were extremely grateful beneficiaries. We would also like to add our thanks to (…) for his interest in what has happened in East Gippsland and in putting these (International) and local Rotarians together in this Global Grant.
Drought makes for a difficult time all round. Mental, emotional, physical, Spiritual and most importantly financial pressures can become overwhelming during these times. Our animals, land, soil, water and feed reserve resources are placed under incredible pressure – which in turn flows on to the farming family. This situation is difficult enough, but to follow up with a Bushfire …well that just tops the scale of stress. We had loss of human life in our small community, which was very emotional – as everyone knows everyone in our region. Many houses were razed, with the sheds lost – uncountable; and large numbers of domestic and native animals and thousands of kms fencing decimated.
It was a real test of emotional, financial and physical strength for all concerned. THANK GOODNESS FOR ROTARY!
The effort and delivery of these grant amounts have been an enormous help to our region. Many of our farming community members who have received help were brought to tears when told that Rotary Foundation Global Grant had supplied funding for our remote rural farming districts. They were in disbelief that (international) Rotary Clubs and other countries abroad would step up and help our relatively small farming region. They were very grateful and honoured to be considered worthy of such aid. On behalf of us personally, and also our fellow farmers, we extend a huge thank you to anyone and everyone involved in this generous and thoughtful
We are personally very grateful,
Thank you does not seem enough to say …”
This couple managed to save their home but suffered major damage on
their two properties, what cattle they still owned had to be assisted off site
and, as a proud farming family, they found the receipt of assistance very
difficult to accept. Very soon she became a conduit between Rotary and other
farmers, coordinating fodder requests and becoming instrumental in making this
Grant work smoothly.
Following her representation of farmers’ preferences, the fodder donations became – with permission from Evanston – a wonderful system where weed spray, fertilizer and seed mix was delivered instead, a situation made possible by drought breaking rains. Farmers could regain some ownership and allow sustainability of farming practices again.