Hearts Wide Open. One small gesture could make a big difference.
When the last major drought hit I was living in Tamworth NSW and I saw and heard things no media ever talked about. It moved me to write a song which I'd like to share with you.
Billy had a farm, lost it quite suddenly
Man from the bank gave no apology
So Billy walked one more time round the Boundry
He worshipped the ground he walked on
Billy worshipped that ground he walked on.
Billy found a tyre and a rope down by the billabong
Remains of cracker nights and campfire singalongs
An old billy-cart and a beer can he used to kick along
He worshipped the ground he played on
Billy worshipped the ground that he’d played on.
He walked up to the shed and down past the silo
Reliving the good times and the fights for survival
But as shadows fell on paddocks left fallow
He worshipped the ground he worked on
Billy worshipped the ground that he’d worked on that he’d worked on...
He walked back to the house, the air gettin’ colder
Got out his gun, but felt a hand on his shoulder
She said Billy for me please grow older
cause I worship the ground that you walk on
I worship the ground you walk on
So he locked up his gun and he threw away his sorrow
Held onto his children like there was no tomorrow
And then the younger one tugged on his elbow
Daddy, I'll worship the ground that you walk on, no matter the ground you walk on
We will worship the ground that you walk on
Whatever ground that you walk on
The disastrous drought that is affecting so many farming families and communities in the eastern states raises deep concerns for the mental health and well-being of the tens of thousands of drought victims.
To underline the seriousness of drought I only have to think back to when I was teaching at a school in Tamworth in 2003 during the then "worst drought on record". A community nurse (a school parent) disclosed to me that three local farmers had taken their lives in that week alone. For privacy reasons these heartbreaking drought stories do not make it into the newspapers. We can only imagine the full extent of the pain and the human toll that result from losing a livelihood - or a family member.
That 2003 experience motivated me to compose and record a song - 'The Ground You Walk On' - to give non-farmers insight into the emotional and psychological effects that drought can have on a farming family. I grew up on a farm so I am able to sing from a place of empathy, but for others it can be difficult to comprehend the depths of anxiety and depression that a drought can bring. Hence the song.
'The Ground You Walk On' originally featured in a story on ABC radio in 2005 discussing the effects of drought in an episode of The Bush Telegraph. I am now re-releasing the song for you to share because even though most of us live in cities, in suburbs and apartments, we are all Australians and we're all in this together.
Droughts produce a myriad of problems but the number one concern has to be the mental health of drought victims. It is in this current period, when the drought is biting hardest, that farming families are in greatest need of help and support to maintain morale, mental health and hope. And they will need ongoing support until the drought breaks!
One way you can help out is donate through the Australian Red Cross where the funds will be distributed to drought-affected communities working with partner agencies who support and have identified at-risk individuals and families in the affected areas.
Watch the video here: