The below Story was written by Blaze Aid volunteer, Vida Whale.
I am an ex-Kiwi farmer who has been travelling around Australia with my caravan for 4 years visiting my children and exploring this huge country. I plucked up the courage to free camp after about 6 months and have found some wonderful peaceful places to stop. I had almost become a hermit sometimes not talking to people for several days at a time. So – imagine the change when I decided to volunteer for BlazeAid!
Being a BlazeAid Volunteer
I was not so keen to do fencing but wanted to assist on the admin side and was fortunate to be asked to come in before the camp started to register the farmers. I spent 5 days on the phone with a local data base of affected farmers before the coordinator arrived. He then had a list to work with for making up teams of volunteers matching the farmer’s needs.
Teams of volunteers ready to go
Talking with farmers close to tears and embarrassed to be asking for help, then seeing the change in them when they came to our Farmers Dinners on a Saturday after the teams cleared a fence or whipped up a new one was an amazingly satisfying and emotional experience. I had driven through Waroona a few days prior to the fire – just another country town I thought. Now I have met so many wonderful generous farmers and the 249 volunteers who came through the camp and I will always have friends to visit when travelling.
How Volunteering Changed My Life
I am still here farm sitting for a couple who are away on a much needed holiday, and taking the opportunity to visit some of farmers who have become friends. There are not many ways for a traveller to really get to know a community and unfortunately it takes a disaster to bring in BlazeAid but it is definitely something I would do again without hesitation.
Everything is provided for caravanners & volunteers
We started in the hall with nothing but water, long-life milk and crockery. In no time Halo turned up with boxes of utensils, bowls & heaps of useful things, the wonderful Lions club organised pots, cutlery, cool room on a trailer, a whole beast and a freezer to put it in, Fresco gave us boxes of fruit and vegetables fresh from the farms every week, the local carrier organised more free weekly meat, the farmers provided lamb, melons, peppers, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, local ladies kept turning up with fruit cakes and quiches, dozens of groups cooked our evening meals – and of course all the beer and wine that kept arriving…. such generosity more than repaid us for the time we spent helping the farmers. I think everyone who volunteered over the 3 months went away feeling changed by the experience.
BlazeAid Workers and Friends to the Rescue
To see a fence cleared and the new one go up – and to see the farmers smile when they realised that there is free help out there and that a team can do the work in a day that would have taken them weeks was hugely satisfying for everyone. There IS light at the end of the tunnel now and many new friendships have been made.
Thank you Blaze Aid for giving me this opportunity to make such a real connection with so many wonderful people.
Story by: Vida Whale
If you would like to find out more about BlazeAid and volunteering your time follow the link below to there web page.