Monday and Tuesday this week, Bill, Ted and Steve met with Alan Newstead and Bernie Farquhar, President and President Elect, of the Mitchell River Rotary Club.  We have been working with Mitchell River Rotary to provide respite trips to Melbourne for drought affected families. The purpose of the visit was to explore further opportunities to assist people seriously affected by the drought.  
Leanne Jennings of the Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House, pictured here with Bill Granger, gave us an overview of the very serious impact the drought was having on farmers and their families.  With over 70 volunteers this House collects and distributes food to the needy and serves lunches on a daily basis.  With her knowledge we will target the most needy with our support.
We visited three farms in their third year of drought. They are dust bowls, with the farmers forced to sell off most of their stock to survive, and desperately trying to keep some breeding stock for when they can rebuild.
We were really fortunate to be able to stay with Judy and Peter Robbins.  Despite their farm suffering greatly in this drought, they continue to run Annie’s Cottage at Lindenow South as a respite location for “Very Special Kids” and their families.  The cottage is used 50 weeks a year.  They have been volunteering their time for nearly 30 years and deservedly have been awarded OAM’s for their work.
Our original intention was to see where we could help with our hands-on efforts and services but it quickly became apparent that their need was really urgent and priority projects such as fencing and dam cleaning needs to have skilled attention with specialist equipment.  They also require cash for fodder, fuel and water.  We thought it preferable to use Rotary skills to help fund and project manage activities.
We recognise we cannot set the local priorities, so Alan and Bernie with the help of Leanne, are developing a list of projects which will draw on the $10,000 we have allocated for drought relief.  We have also decided to seek a further grant from District 9800.
Bill, Ted and Steve