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Real Life

Gifts of hope: How one woman is stopping at nothing to raise the spirits of her fellow farmers

Farming is in Elzette Connan's blood and she's going above and beyond to help out.

By Astha Gupta
Family is everything to Elzette Connan and now more so than ever.
She and her husband Murray both grew up on sheep farms in South Africa and relocated to Wandering, WA, to provide a better future for their family.
Then, four years ago, they upped sticks and moved to Cumnock, NSW, buying 1215 hectares of land with livestock.
"We were living a dream life in Australia when we were hit by the drought," says Elzette, 44.
At the mercy of no rain, the Connans had to sell most of their sheep and cattle to buy feed for the remaining livestock.
To make ends meet, Elzette picked up a job as a preschool teacher 100km away, but with rain not expected for six months, even the optimistic mum to Megan, 14, and Julian, 13, started to lose hope for the future.
That is until a friend sent her the most unexpected gift.
"I received a shoebox filled with tea, chocolates, coffee mugs and a note saying, 'Sending you a bit of sunshine,'" Elzette recalls.
"It was such a surprise. I broke down in happy tears."
Elzette, with husband Murray, is hoping to make a difference with her shoebox donations. (Source: Supplied)
The box had an impact on her.
"I felt so good, I wanted to pass on the gesture," she says.
As Christmas approached, Elzette pondered over how she could spread some cheer, so she approached her friend Tracey.
"I told her I wanted to encourage people to make a shoebox donation filled with simple inexpensive items, to send to people in drought-affected areas before Christmas," she says.
Elzette and her friend Tracey, spreading hope and creators of Ladies of the Land. (Source: Supplied)
The gesture would not only be an offering of kindness but one of friendship and support, too.
Tracey, 44, loved the idea and helped her set up their Facebook page, Ladies of the Land, which hopes to deliver 100 boxes for Christmas and make a big difference to so many women doing it tough on the land.
"We were overwhelmed by the response – we had pledges coming in from all over the country," she says, smiling.
In less than a month, Elzette and Tracey's Facebook page has attracted 15,000 likes and more than 4000 pledges.
WATCH: Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban donate to drought relief. Story continues below...
Ways to help: Ladies of the Land Christmas Flyer. (Source: Supplied)
Now, life for Elzette is busier than ever as she juggles her teaching job with running the farm, organising the Ladies of the Land initiative and looking after her family.This grassroots mum wouldn't have it any other way, although if you call her a Christmas angel, she'll recoil with shyness.
Reaching out to support women in a similar situation, especially at this time of year is a no-brainer for this humble lady of the land, who simply says, "I'm doing this because we need to give back – we can't make it rain but we can surely send a little bit of sunshine someone's way."
Making it rain with a little bit of hope, Estelle and husband, Murray with their children Julian and Megan. (Source: Woman's Day)
To make a donation to help drought-stricken farming families, visit cwaofnsw.org.au, qcwa.org.au or cwaofvic.org.au

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