Australia

Drought relief: Convoy heads to regional NSW to help farmers

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A convoy of cars has driven hundreds of kilometres to give essential items to farmers affected by the drought in regional New South Wales.

Dozens of volunteers travelled in a convoy from Sydney to deliver much-needed goods to some of New South Wales' drought-stricken farmers. 

Thirty cars made the 200-kilometre journey on Saturday from Lithgow to Yeoval, south of Dubbo, to provide relief to farmers.

More than 20 cars are driving together to Yeoval, south of Dubbo, to deliver groceries to drought-affected farmers.
More than 20 cars are driving together to Yeoval, south of Dubbo, to deliver groceries to drought-affected farmers.
SBS News

Their haul includes canned food, coffee, toiletries and four trailers carrying more than 8500 litres of water. 

Engineer Sergey Antonov was inspired to help the farmers after seeing several heartbreaking stories of despair endured by farmers. 

“As soon as I saw in the news that Australian farmers are struggling to feed the youngest generation of their stock, I realised I needed to do something right now,” he told SBS News.

Initially, an idea between three of Mr Antonov's friends, interest quickly spread once he posted the event on social media.

Within days dozens of people from the Russian community, as well as the Indian and Nepalese communities, offered to join the convoy.

The convoy is driving 200km to reach farmers in drought-stricken NSW.
The convoy is driving 200km to reach farmers in drought-stricken NSW.
SBS News

“I’m really grateful for all the people who responded to my call over the Internet. I’m really amazed,” he said.

“Farmers spend most of their budgets on stock feed and now they are struggling to feed themselves. It’s not right. This situation should be fixed somehow. So that’s why we’re trying to save farmers and cover their back.

“If I can help them to not think about the basic everyday needs. I’ll be happy.”

Along with a large haul, Mr Antonov has also packed his engineering tools. 

“I know there are some problems with the pumps and the water heating system on the farmers," he said.

"I’m ready to roll my sleeves and go.”

The volunteers reached their destination on Saturday night, in time for an event at the town’s only pub where some of the aid was distributed.

Farmers 'rarely ask for help'

The generous donations brought smiles to the faces of those struggling the most.
 
“We are so happy and it's just restored faith in everybody to know the city’s actually thinking of the farmers,” said Yeoval farmer Joy Haycock.

Her daughter Krystal has been coordinating drought relief for the Yeoval community and said the support has been overwhelming. 

She expects the aid will help as many as 60 families over the next month. 

“A lot of households are out of water, a lot of households can’t afford luxury items in their groceries they are down to just staples so these goods will just be a tremendous uplifting experience for the people who are going to receive them.”

“Farmers are a very rare breed, they very rarely ask for help. I don’t think farmers have ever really requested groceries since 1982 so this is a community picking up and hearing the farmers."

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