MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Rural Aid volunteers Darrell Leach, Ray Velvick, Marg Ainsworth, Terry Ainsworth and Peter Caldwell in the soon to be renvovated kitchen at the Mile Showground.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Rural Aid volunteers Darrell Leach, Ray Velvick, Marg Ainsworth, Terry Ainsworth and Peter Caldwell in the soon to be renvovated kitchen at the Mile Showground. Zoe Bell

Rural Aid visits Miles to help farmers in need

LIFE was lonelier than expected for Janice James when she lost her husband, so she decided to join Rural Aid for something to do.

In her now fourth farm rescue, Mrs James is spending this week in Miles with 60 other volunteers, helping local farmers and organisations.

"I couldn't see the point of roaming around the country by myself with nothing to do, so I found Rural Aid and started doing that,” Mrs James said.

"I've found it to be a very supportive environment - and it has definitely helped me because it makes me feel really good when I help people. I figure if you can help, then you do help.”

Rural Aid co-founder Tracy Alder has spent a lot of time with the Miles community throughout the past four years and recognised the great need.

Declaring a green drought in Miles because the dry was not as bad as other places she had been to, Mrs Alder still witnessed how it was affecting the locals and decided to help.

"When the drought has gone on for so long, you don't recover with a bit of rain here and there and it does take some time,” she said.

"A range of things are happening so that does create issues with their (farmers') income and also their mental health.”

During their time in Miles, projects will include helping at Miles Golf Club, helping at Murilla Child Care Centre and Kindergarten, putting in a kitchen at Miles Show- ground and helping local farmers with maintenance.

A team of 20 Komatsu employees including 14 highly specialised machine technicians also joined the volunteers, along with an up-and-coming cricket team.

Mrs Alder said both teams would benefit locals not only with maintenance but also mental support.

"Komatsu will be fixing heavy machinery which is a really huge help, because it's a costly exercise to have someone come from the east out here, access the project, go back and get the parts or have them sent out and potentially come back again,” she said.

"With the cricketers, everyone loves sports and cricket in particular.

"We are quite a patriotic nation when it comes to our cricket, so wherever they go they will be well received and it will be a great lift for someone not just with maintenance but a bit of fun too.”

Rural Aid volunteers get to know the place they are in and learn about the struggles the farmers are facing and the effect their work is having on them.

"People need to see they are making a difference, that helps them want to volunteer and it's great for the people who are receiving it,” Mrs Alder said.

"It's great for them to mingle because you get to understand more about the area, local people and why people volunteer.

"We need to get back to the basics when it comes to interaction.”

This is Rural Aid's second visit to Miles with plans to be continuously involved through various campaigns.factbox tag with dummy text.


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