The farm was different to what I imagined it would be.
Last Monday, Megan (SDMF Marketing Manager), Maddy (Events) and I drove down to the Southern Highlands to visit Triple Care Farm. This was an important trip for me, as the current Volunteer Marketing Assistant, because it ‘put a face to a name’ and I saw firsthand the cause that I have been working for and the impact that it has on real people, not just the statistics I’ve read.
My sense of anticipation on the drive down was balanced by the lovely weather which heightened the programs unique and comforting environment. First of all, the facilities were spread out encouraging me to appreciate the surroundings as we moved from the main building, to the gym and then to the music rooms. When we walked around, our Visitor passes allowed us to act like flies on the wall and see first hand the students working on individual projects. One of the girls, who was about my age, was building a book shelf for her 1yr old nephew while one of the boys over in the garage was working on a toolbox.
I found the integration with the surroundings really special. Not only was there an orchard, but also small herb gardens for the students to look after. This brought together a sense of responsibility and feelings of reward as the results were visualised. The presence of horses and chickens detracted from any sense of isolation while we walked around.
As I was shown around the day program I was continually surprised by the practicality of almost everything. For example the sandpit in the classroom was there in case the students got fidgety.
During the visit to the detox program at David Martin Place I learnt a lot. The facilities were incredible. It took me a moment to get my head around the resources required for the detoxing process. Each bedroom was fully equipped with technology that could be adjusted to suit individual needs whilst maintaining an extremely safe environment. This includes air conditioning and heating, a rain shower head built into the ceiling, and cardboard coat hangers. I found it a bit confronting that the guys I spoke to who were so calm and friendly but were also relying on the support of the nurses to get through this challenge which was an example of how strong they are. They shared stories from their stay about kangaroos coming all the way up to the house and how they had seen a wombat for the first time.
The staff were so in touch with the program which I guess is a key to its success. They shared jokes with the students about who the champion of Uno was and how they taught the students to bake coconut cookies.
By the end of the day I realised the multifaceted nature of the rehabilitation program and the importance to nurture every aspect of it. It was great to see how lives are being changed here.