Two families affected by drought and floods tell how Salvo rural chaplains give them much-needed practical help and comfort.
Salvo rural chaplains Majors Di and Rusty Lawson
Salvation Army rural chaplains Majors Rusty and Di Lawson say some areas of north-west NSW and around the Queensland border have had next to no rain for up to 12 months.
“Dunedoo has had the second driest winter on record. It is so sad to see. Many wheat crops came to nothing this year; the farmers have planted the seed and it’s come to nothing. Really sad stuff,” says Di.
Alisha*, who lives in this drought-ravaged area, says she doesn’t know where she’d be without the support of the Salvos’ rural chaplains.
“It would have been a hell of a lot tougher, financially and emotionally, but probably more so emotionally, without the Salvo chaplains dropping in and having a cuppa and a yarn.
“We tend not to go anywhere because we can’t afford to. Generally, you would go to the pub and have a yarn to everyone but we can’t waste that money. We don’t see many people and we don’t go anywhere.
“We were also very grateful to receive a donation from the Salvos to re-gutter a farm building and install a rainwater tank and pressure pump. I was able to plant a small vegetable garden and a few fruit trees and this took the pressure off our grocery bills.
“Water is such a critical thing out here. You wake up thinking about it. And it’s not really about saving water, it’s hoping that the wind will blow because lots of our water is on windmills, so if the wind doesn’t blow then there’s no water. It can get really ugly, really quickly.”
Hundreds of kilometres away lives another family touched by rural chaplaincy. Sarah* says that after a 100-year flood nearly wiped them out a year ago, her husband took their machinery up north in search of harvest work and she could barely afford groceries.
“I made a very hesitant decision to call the Salvos and ask for help,” she says. “The rural chaplains were so generous with their offer of money and vouchers to help us, and it did so very much, but it was so much more than that.
“That day they offered me an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on that was totally anonymous. They listened and responded and prayed for me and I knew no-one else had to know how dire it had become.
“This was the start of an ongoing relationship, and the rural chaplains in my area now regularly visit us.
“We can’t wait for our visits to catch up and have a meal together. And nothing sounds sweeter than a four-year-old telling Grandma that he can’t wait to see the ‘caravan people who helped mummy’.”
* Names have been changed
First appeared in Others magazine