They call themselves the Sunshine Coast Water Angels.
Anna Bradley and Rachel Wise have earned the title, delivering over 100 tonnes of water to drought stricken farming communities in Stanthorpe and Warwick.
Two soccer mums living on the Sunshine Coast decided to do something to help relieve the serious water crises people were experiencing in both townships. At the same time, inspiring many people throughout the country to come to the aid of water-starved communities.
How did it all begin?
Anna told IA that:
I was listening to the radio one day and I heard that Stanthorpe and Warwick were nearly out of water. I thought someone should help them, and a little voice said: you could!
I grew up in Warwick. So I contacted Rachel Wise, a soccer mum. Our kids play together. I knew she’d taught in Stanthorpe for 17 years so we decided to band together. We wrote a little spiel on Facebook asking people to give water and that we ‘d take it out there.
Warwick is 130 km southwest of Brisbane with a population of 12,000. The average rainfall, according to Anna, is 705ml. This year, the area received 16 ml.
Further, Anna said:
This is a crisis never experienced before. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. There’s no income, no summer crops, these people are tough farm folk, hurting. We needed to show them ‘You’re not alone.’
The response was incredible. People as far away as Sydney, Tasmania and Perth are buying water online at Woolworths and Coles who delivered the cartons to Anna’s business. Jack Walden for Walden Transport Woombye donated transport and time.
Peter Hall and his family donated $10,000.
A few homeless people in Brisbane pooled their money and donated two slabs. Bank staff, gymnasiums, orthodontists, kids, and schools all eager to help bought slabs of water.
Waddi Springs, an Indigenous water supplier in Brisbane gave the women a good discount for the water which is packaged in biodegradable cartons.
Drought-stricken families were given preference.
Anna told IA:
We gave the water to the rural folk, not the town folk who were already struggling on 100 litres a day person, likely to be to 80, but they still have access. The rural folk have no access. Their tanks are empty. Dams haven’t had rain for two years, they’re hand feeding the remaining cattle. I know some folk who are going without medication so they can help the animals.
Some properties have bores but you can’t drink bore water because the calcium levels are so high.
We’re asking them to turn up with their electricity or power bills with their address so we can give 60 litres per family and see how we go.
In September, we were able to take out 75 tonnes to Stanthorpe.
“We really wanted to help Warwick so we partnered with Rotary as they could take cash donations. With some fund raising and collection days, we raised $12,300. With that money, we’re hoping to get at least 22 pallets- equal to about 62 tonnes of water to distribute early in December.”
Anna says the mental strain on affected farming families is having a real impact.
“They’re doing it really tough.”
The angels' good deeds inspired Muslim Aid to make contact with the women through their Facebook page.
IA spoke with Ryaad Ally while he was driving a truckload. He’s working with Muslim Aid helping to co-ordinate massive fodder, food parcels and water deliveries. An effort which has been happening for over a year.
Ryaad told IA:
Last year we took our first truck loads to Goondiwindi, and distributed 33 tonnes of hay bales. A couple of months later when we got our community more involved, we delivered in ten truckloads 130 tonnes of hay.
When we heard about the water crisis affecting Stanthorpe, and along the granite belt, we organised 10 truckloads of drinking water, around 196,000 litres.
Another delivery to Warwick is planned this month, as well as 10 truckloads of hay to drought-stricken farms in South Australia.
Ryaad says that Muslim Aid will continue to help, but that hay is getting more and more expensive:
“The drought makes it difficult to get hay and it takes longer to access.”
The Deen family in Oxley, well-known for their extraordinary charitable efforts, have been a powerful supporter of the drought relief program along with Muslim Aid donating trucks and fuel. In previous drought-stricken years, the family initiated drought relief fodder deliveries and the tradition continues.
Ryaad says the deliveries have been a fantastic experience: "There’s so much camaraderie and unity. Something really positive has come out of this crisis."
Anna is unstinting in her praise of the help given by Muslim Aid:
“They’re doing a fabulous job taking fodder, parcels and water. Their help needs to be shouted from the rooftops, they’re helping the whole country.”
Anna says it will take generations for families to rebuild:
I don’t think people grasp – it won’t be fixed.
People need to realise there’s nothing so fundamental as our need for water. Our agenda has never been political.
We’re here for the people, to help those who are struggling.
Another drive is in process now but the next drive is unlikely to happen before February.
It's a shame our politicians don’t join the drives and deliver water, instead of hot air.
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