A CHARITY dedicated to helping rural Australia has knocked on the door of a dairy farming family in Rochester.
The family of four, who wish to remain anonymous, have ridden the extreme lows of the dairy industry over the last few years and were gobsmacked to be on the receiving end of a Farm Rescue by the charity Rural Aid.
The rescue entailed converting an old shed on their property into a much needed bedroom for their teenage son, who is currently sharing with his little brother.
The family is squeezed together in a tiny two bedroom home, bursting at the seams.
“I just cried and cried when they rang,’’ one of the parents said. ‘‘It is an extremely hard thing to accept help but it means the world to us to have an extension to our home — we would never have been able to afford to do this. We can now have visitors come and stay and my son will finally get some privacy.
“The kindness is overwhelming and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Our life has been changed by all these great people and even though it might seem like a small thing to others it has been massive for us and we are so grateful.’’
Charles Alder is the man behind Rural Aid, which was established in 2015.
He has travelled the countryside supporting rural Australia through gifts of hay, on-farm renovations, community events, educational programs and hampers and gift cards.
He started the charity after reading an article in the paper about farmers having to shoot their stock because they couldn’t feed them.
“I like to help people. There is no material gain for me personally, it’s just long hours and changing someone’s life for the better. It is infectious and it is nice to see a kinder society changing people’s lives.”
When it comes to on-farm renovations, Rural Aid enlists the help of volunteers and local business to get the job done.
“Anyone can help when it comes to renovating. We have a lot of travellers and grey nomads support us. They have great skills and we put together a program to look after them in exchange for their time and intelligence.
“Being a volunteer is a hassle-free way to see Australia and the only cost for volunteers is to get themselves to the destination,” Charles said.
Rural Aid buys local as much as possible to support the local business community as well.
Charles said the job at Rochester was made possible by the support of local businesses including Rochester Mitre 10, Carpet Court Echuca, Norlec electrical and Windowtech.
Neil and Allison Elliot from Melbourne have been long-term volunteers, but this is the first time they have helped Rural Aid.
“We wanted to give it a go to see if we fit in with this process and then we will keep doing it. I am a general handyman from a corporate background and I am happy to have a go at anything from a maintenance or carpentry sense,” Neil said.
Neil said he has learnt a lot about the dairy industry in the short time he has been on the farm.
“It has been very educational. Dairying is a lot more complicated than I ever thought it was.”
Jeannie Ramsay is also volunteering.
“It’s been fantastic. I have made some new friends — I am buggered but it has been great. I can’t quite describe the experience but I would do it again in a heartbeat — we are lucky to be in a position to help others,” Jeannie said.
Rural Aid is always on the lookout for volunteers or donations.