School communities dig deep for flood ravaged Eugowra
Two schools in the Central West have called on their community to collect donations for the neighbouring town of Eugowra. Vivienne Jones reports.
22 November 2022
They may be small, but their spirit of giving is mighty.
When the principals of Manildra Public School and Holman Place School, both on Wiradjuri Country, saw the impact of floodwaters on the nearby town of Eugowra, they had the same thought: “How can we help?”
Despite both towns, Manildra and Cowra, being impacted by the floods with road closures separating teachers and students, the principals counted themselves lucky.
Manildra Public School principal Debbie Milgate got to work calling on her community to donate food items, clothing, toiletries and toys for the Eugowra community.
“It has been a devastating week for all the small communities that surround us; it has been a week where the overwhelming generosity of the Manildra community has shone through,” Ms Milgate said.
“What started with a simple idea to donate a few items, quickly grew into the large quantities donated by residents, staff and businesses from other towns.
“The school was the collection point, and this has been a great opportunity to reinforce the power of compassion to our students. To emphasise with others and help where we can, it builds connections across our small schools, which in turn creates a strong bond.”
Manildra Public School, which has around 50 students, was closed for two days due to the floods as there was no road access to the school, which had no water or power.
“Our local footbridge, which is our only access to town, was washed away,” Ms Milgate said.
“We now have some students who cannot access school as they would normally walk or cycle to school, but we are continuing to support them with learning from home materials and check-ins.
“Our fencing was washed away, our tennis courts damaged, and water entered our storage sheds.
“However, we feel lucky as we are less affected than those around us.
“There are farmers in our town who have lost crops. This was their first harvest since drought and mice plagues.
“Although the damage to our physical environment is huge, the impact on wellbeing and mental health is enormous.”
Holman Place School principal Rebecca Halls said after visiting Eugowra to see family members over the weekend, she noticed a gap in the donations for children.
“I saw a lot of families coming in for supplies and realised that there wasn’t a lot of books or art supplies that kids could use,” she said.
“We have been quite fortunate and have been able to stay operational during these floods, but just seeing the devastation of other communities around here has been impactful for us as a school community.
“Helping each other is what it is all about.
“At the end of the day when disaster strikes, that is when people come out and help complete strangers.
“We are a School for Specific Purposes, so for our 30 students it’s really important to understand that people do their best things together when horrible things happen.”
Holman Place School is holding a ‘Mufti Day’ on Thursday, where students can wear casual clothes and are encouraged to bring along a new or near-new book for students affected by floods.
Books can range from reading, to colouring-in, to art books.
“We just hope it brings some smiles to the faces of the kids in Eugowra,” Ms Halls said.
The Eugowra Public School opened again today after being closed for a week due to the floods.
The school was pleased to see staff and students back in the classroom and also welcomed students from the flood-damaged St Joseph’s Catholic School.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet visited Eugowra on Tuesday, speaking with flood victims and visiting the school.