Children and their families are doing it tough in the bush – they are struggling to remain hopeful while facing the reality of drought, with its debilitating effects.
One of our amazing chaplains, Helen, paints a picture of life for kids in the outback:
“I’ve been a chaplain for three years now, but only started at the Charters Towers School of Distance Education in second semester last year.
“At the moment, a lot of families are struggling with the drought. They’ve got rising debt as they try to keep drought affected stock alive. There are no returns from unsaleable stock, just costs. Outback communities and families are caught up in a drought that has gone on far too long, and the impact is heartbreaking. Sometimes, that extra burden means less time in the school room. They have to restructure their school times with feeding runs and checking waters. And that puts pressure on families, which makes it tough.
“Support services are really needed out here, but it’s hard to get access to them when you live in a remote area. You might have a child with a speech problem, or they might need some counselling for anxiety, and their parents may need to travel four hours into town for a half-hour session. That’s hard for the child, but it’s also hard for their mother too.”
One way our team is supporting students in the outback is through a new program – the Mobile Outback Chaplaincy Service.
Getting the right people to become chaplains in remote areas is a real challenge. The ultimate goal is for each remote school to have their own permanent chaplain, but while the schools wait, the Mobile Outback Chaplaincy Service fills the gap.
The service started last year as a ‘pilot’ program for rural and remote children. Our chaplains, David and Emily Kamholtz, and their three children, headed out in a four-wheel-drive for five months.
They travelled between six towns, spending a week in each school before moving on to the next one. They helped in classrooms and ran programs in schools that have been waiting years for a chaplain.
Schools that participated in the trial program have provided positive feedback, saying from the moment Emily and Dave arrived, the community felt loved and remembered. That makes all the difference.
You have an exciting opportunity to turn this trial program into something permanent this year, and help more rural communities. It’s vital for communities to have this support, especially during such tough conditions.
We are hoping to raise $150,000 by the 28th February to put two mobile chaplains on the road in 2015. We already have an experienced couple, ready… we just need to raise the finance to cover accommodation, transport and fuel.
Can you help?
To find out more about supporting the Mobile Outback Chaplaincy Service, please call 1300 478 753 or you can Donate Now.