As many farmers know, calving season is a time where rural communities come together to support the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme, whereby funds from sales of donated calves provide support enabling rural people with disabilities and their families to remain rooted in their own back yards.
The scheme celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and due to strong support through generations of farmers it makes a difference of around one million dollars per year to the IHC’s funding. Feds are pleased to support the promotion of the scheme this spring season, and the IHC’s work fostering rural communities.
Before the calf scheme became mainstream people living rurally with disabilities often lacked easy access to the support they needed. To put it another way, think of the basics you need near to hand when raising a child: medicine, schoolbooks, clothes… Now consider the extra items and support services on that list a person with a disability needs to have the same quality of education and life. For many rural families depending on these, the impracticality often involved in accessing these means it makes more sense to move to urban hubs.
A family faced with this decision represents a loss to rural communities, and the scheme was founded to be a backstop of support networks during crucial moments to prevent this.
Aside from community liaisons and other support, one example of these is a library of information maintained by the IHC for parents. IHC’s National Manager Fundraising Greg Millar says: “In rural communities it is such a valuable thing to be able to get a book on growing up with down syndrome. We send those out free of charge… so parents have a manual.”
“…As soon as you know you’re going to have a kid, the number of times you’d thumb through [books] and think ‘gosh, what stage are we at?’ Well, when you have a child with an intellectual disability it’s not necessarily the same. You could be looking at [topics like] ‘how does my child make friends with other people?’ It’s coping with that.”
One sentence Greg has heard repeatedly from farmers referring to the scheme is ‘it’s just what you do’. A fitting statement that summarises the fiercely practical nature of farmers and their strong sense of community.
“There’s just so much involved in that tradition… Farmers get what it means to be in your community, and not be separated out”, Greg says.
After navigating some rough waters over the last few seasons due to Mycoplasma Bovis (M. Bovis) outbreaks and COVID, the IHC is back canvassing support for the scheme once more. Greg remembers: “When M. Bovis hit, we were all really afraid of what that would mean for the scheme… and then amongst all that two years after M. Bovis, we were struck with COVID hitting sale dates.”
“But what amazed us more than anything was the number of farmers that rallied around and wanted to make sure the calf scheme got through.”
If you see the IHC canvassers driving around farms over the next few months, give them a wave. The IHC and Feds recognise long-standing supporters of the scheme, including those who may not be in a position to donate this year. This is a long-standing community effort and we acknowledge your past pledges which continue to make a difference for rural communities.
For more information or to arrange a donation head to www.ihc.org.nz/rural, or contact the IHC direct by phone on 0800 442 500 / by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to listen to our recent FEDTalks episode with the IHC, also available online via your preferred streaming platform.