Children in rural NSW are waking up before the sun to help their families survive Australia’s crippling drought. Farming families are under extreme levels of stress as a result of this natural disaster and are doing everything they can to provide for their children. We went to schools in Gunnedah, Tamworth, Narrabri and Walgett to hear from these kids. This is what they told us.
5am - Alarm rings. It’s still dark. Sheep need to be fed.
9am - School bell rings. Algebra. Maths is first today.
3:30pm - School bell rings. Time to go home. Did I take hay out this morning?
4:30pm - Back on the farm. It feels even hotter today. Better feed the sheep.
9pm - I still haven’t done my homework.
12am - Lights off. Time for bed.
The room is surprisingly cool. A large air-conditioning unit is roaring in the background, forcibly blowing pieces of loosely pinned paper on the classroom’s walls. It is a stark contrast to the soaring heat on the other side of the window.
A group of high school students file into the classroom one by one. They are hesitant to talk at first, but it is not long before they open up. For some, it is the first time they will reflect on the drought aloud.
It’s only midday, but some of these kids have already worked a full day. They have woken up before the sun to support their family’s livelihood.