Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the Drought Angels, two women supporting Aussie farmers

''Our farmers are suffering, so I had to help.''

By Courtney GReatrex

Tash Johnston, 46, Chinchilla, Qld.

I smiled as I was approached by a customer at the cafe where I worked.
"Just a latte, thanks love," she said, before 
sitting down.
Living in a small country town meant we got to know our clientele really well.
We were a tight-knit community. I loved having a good yarn with the locals while I worked. But recently, the drought was a concern.
The parched earth was desperate for rain, and farmers were losing their livelihoods.
Good people were having to shoot their stock far too regularly, because their condition was too poor to be sold.
As I wiped tables, I listened to another customer talk about a farmer in north-west Queensland.
"He was trying to sell his cattle, but they were too poor to travel," she explained to a friend. 

"So the truck left without 'em, and the farmer had to shoot them all. He shot his dogs, and then himself."
I fought back tears as I listened.
I need to do something about this, I thought.
Sharing his story on Facebook, I hoped to raise awareness.
Next day, my friend Nicki asked me about the post.
"I'd love to do something," she said.
"Me too," I agreed.
Nicki (left) and I will help however we can! (Image: Supplied)
We decided to host a ladies' night to fundraise 
for people affected by the drought. The community rallied for the cause and were chuffed with the result.
The owners of the cafe where Nicki and I worked donated the premises for the night, staff worked for free and our friends and family sourced alcohol.
The event was so successful, we raised 
nearly $4000, and I felt 
a rush of excitement.
We gave the money to 
a charity helping Aussie farmers.
"Let's do this again," I said to Nicki.Spurred on, we collected donations outside our local IGA, and did a grocery collection.
Driving out to the farms 
to deliver the goods, I saw first-hand how people had been impacted.
"This isn't charity, it's a thank you for feeding the nation," I said as I gave the farmers bags of essentials.
We were so excited to get our first Drought Angels headquarters! (Image: Supplied)
One family had a daughter who was breaking out in boils because her parents couldn't afford fruit and veggies.
It was heartbreaking to see their suffering, but at least we could help them in 
a small way.
Eventually Nicki and I launched our own charity, Drought Angels.
We quit our jobs and worked full time supporting families affected by drought.
"I finally feel like I've found my calling in life," I said to my husband, Steele.
A couple of years ago, the drought hit Sydney's doorstep and media coverage exploded across the country.
We were inundated with donations, and managed to raise an incredible $11million.
"Now we never have 
to knock anyone back," 
I beamed to my colleague Jenny.
These days, we focus on helping farmers in their house paddock.
We help them pay their bills, put food on the table and feed their working dogs and horses.
If we can take some of that financial burden off their shoulders, they can focus on what they do best – farming.
We receive so many donations to help our farmers. (Image: Supplied)
Now, we hope to continue to be a friendly ear for people to offload to.
While we might be called Drought Angels, we're also flood angels and fire angels too, and will help however we can.
To donate, visit: Drought Angels

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