A few weeks ago I received a call out of the blue from a stranger.
That stranger was Chris from United Tradies, an organisation which coordinates trades coming together and providing community support to those in need.
Chris was organising a trip away to a place called Eurimbla, a small dot on the map 4.5 hours north-west of Sydney that, like many other areas, has been hit hard by sustained drought.
The overall purpose of the trip was to provide hands-on support to several of the farms in the area. They had painters, carpenters, electricians and general helpers onboard and needed a plumber.
After putting the call out to our Facebook community, friends and family for donations for support through donations of fuel, materials, goods and gift cards we hit the road and arrived at the central farm on Friday 23 November.
Chris from United Tradies met us and introduced us to our farm hosts Chris & Denise, after which we unpacked the ute and set about distributing the supplies that had been donated, including fresh fruit, chocolates, dog food, bottled water and more.
A little uncertainty at the sight of an unknown bright lime ute from Sydney soon turned into hugs and thank-you’s and squeals of excitement from the kids when they spied the chocolates!
The families that we visited that afternoon were all humbled by the support they had already been offered, and for what else was to come during the weekend.
With our job list ready for a big Saturday ahead, we returned to the central farm to meet the other trades and volunteers that had given up their time to join the Share the Load crew.
There were people from all walks of life, circumstances and experience but one thing had brought them together, and that was community spirit.
Our host Chris has been living and farming in Eurimbla all of his life and has a young family (wife Denise, son Paddy 6yrs & daughter Darcy 2yrs) who also help out with chores on the farm. The drought has been long-lasting and they work around the clock to keep their heads above water.
They are a great family and for Chris, it became clear throughout the two days that having the company of others around for the few days meant just as much as getting help with the work.
The next two days brought a mix of jobs across five farms from fencing, digging holes, jack-hammering concrete, roofing and of course plumbing.
For one family, the simple task of plumbing in fresh water to their washing machine in place of the hard (dam) water that they had been using since a pipe burst was a life changer!
Aside from work, there were plenty of moments for laughter, beers (of course!) and great conversation with these new found mates.
When Monday rolled around and it was time to leave, my last job was to drop Paddy at the school gate to get his bus – the most important job of the weekend. Paddy travels 40 minutes to get to school each way and there is only one bus, so if he misses it, he misses school.
We left 30 of our Brita ‘filter and go’ active bottles with Paddy to take to his school. He did this the following day, which got him celebrity status with his school-mates!
Overall we left Eurimbla feeling so grateful that we were able to be a part of this experience.
These families are doing it hard and while the government has forms of support in place, it often takes months to cut through the red tape to access funding. They are also isolated, and so having other people around and knowing that people care makes a real difference.
We want to say a massive thank-you to all our customers, family, friends and local businesses who supported our part in this trip, and donated goods, money or materials. They are Anthea & Tony, Bass Family, Christine Daujotis, Cooks Plumbing, Cuscal, Frank Rego,
We’d also like to thank Chris & Aileen from United Trades, who started the Share the Load initiative and gave us the opportunity to attend.