City kids send love and support to bushfire victims in the country

It is as simple as putting coloured pencils to paper and creating drawings and messages of love and support for bushfire victims.

This is how a class of year one Unley Primary School students chose to help following the devastating blaze in South Australia's mid-north last month.

The fires killed two people, 70,000 livestock, destroyed dozens of homes and razed thousands of hectares of prime cropping land.

Six-year-old Zara Rodda was so moved by the disaster, she wanted to find a way to help.


"We were watching the news and it looked like some people really lost everything and I felt sorry for those people that lost their house and lost their belongings," she said.

So Zara and her father Mark Rodda, also CEO of Agribusiness Free Eyre, came up with a plan.

"She was engrossed with the impact it was having with people in the area. Her cousins were at one point in the line of fire — they fortunately escaped," Mr Rodda said.

"She wanted to know how we could do something, so we got thinking how we could do something meaningful. We thought about how we could engage her class at school.

"My daughter came up with the idea of doing a drawing with a message of support, care, love, that the city kids are thinking about those impacted by these fires."

And so, Zara and 24 of her classmates picked up their pencils and started drawing.

The drawings have been posted each day on Facebook and Twitter by Free Eyre Limited, with some proving very popular.

Seven-year-old Lewis drew a new house and farm animals for those who had lost their homes and livestock, with the message: "I hope your crops are better soon".

Charlotte said she wanted to draw something because she felt sad.

"In my picture there's a warm day trying to make the farmers happy, so I drew crops and a house. I wanted them to know we could try to help them," she said.

That was also the sentiment by six-year-old William.

"I've drawn some animals because some of the farms have been smoked from the bushfire and the animals might have died and the farmers, so I'm being nice to them by thinking about them and stuff," he said.

Mark Rodda said the drawings would also be used by Free Eyre and other groups in different ways.

"We're using some of the images as email backgrounds when we send notes out and we'll use them over the next year where we think they will help uplift people's spirits," he said.

"We've also had some inquiries by some of the charities in the regions that are affected, to use some of the images and messages.

"It's amazing how it's managed to capture the imagination of a number of different groups."

Teacher Linda Mitchell said it had also been a positive way for her students to build on their knowledge about the importance of agriculture.

"I just feel incredibly proud and I feel that they have a genuine connection to it, because of the work we did last term, this is an important thing for them to understand," she said.

"It's not always easy being a farmer and that's part of the cycle and the experience that farmers have, and for them to see the not so good side of it as well."

By Caroline Winter

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