‘A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step’
Back in 2014, our farmers John and Yenda were struggling immensely. Managing a 3000-acre farm operation in Yeoval with a considerable number of equipment and infrastructure items requiring repair was all becoming too much. Coupled with the added responsibility of raising their two young sons, Tom and Will, and you can begin to imagine how much juggling was required just to keep the place afloat.
Throw in years upon years of drought and you can now begin to understand the desperation that both John and Yenda were feeling. In fact, life became so hard at one point that Farmer John was forced to grain feed his livestock three times a day, just in order to keep them alive! Life still wasn’t getting any easier for Farmer John and Yenda which meant having to ask the boys to pull their weight on the farm. Jobs that would normally be requested of someone double their age, the boys simply had to ‘muck in’ and help. Farmer John and Yenda explain that the kids didn’t get weekends when there’s farm work to be done. On school days, “They get up early, eat, do some farm work, go to school, come back from school, do more work, eat and sleep.”
Farmer John and Yenda needed help. But who was going to put up their hand to assist? What possible resource could they tap into to lift their young family unit out of this rut? Enter John Bestel. John B. had heard about our Outback Links program and wanted to find a way to give back to the community. He contacted us at Frontier Services and we organised for John B. to visit Farmer John and Yenda. Put it down to namesake, but let’s just say this became figuratively a match made in heaven.
Fast forward to 2021 and Farmer John and Yenda, along with their two sons are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity of John B. visit the farm upwards of 5 or 6 times. “We couldn’t have got to where we are today without the kind spirit and grace from John over all these years” Yenda mentioned.
John B. recalls the first time he volunteered, signing up to our Outback Links program to ‘fix an issue with the pipes’ on the Yeoval property. Once the plumbing was all sorted, John B explains to us that he then tried his hand at all sorts of things. “I’ve repaired pianos and piano accordions, fixed the boys’ bikes, built cubby houses and even go-karts!”
When John B. visits he tries to bring some fun to their lives. “They largely have to keep themselves entertained so I try and do something different.” Simply having someone new around helps to break up the routine in order to keep farming families going.
“I go with Yenda when she takes the boys to Little Athletics,” John B. tells us. He helps her out on the BBQ and gets to meet other people from the area. “You get to know what other people in the community are facing as well.” For the community, knowing that there are people out there like John Bestel who care and are willing to be there to listen and help out is a massive boost. Not only does the relentless struggle through the drought take a toll on the children but on the adults as well. John B. tells us that for Farmer John, having someone to talk to relieves the pressure that he feels. “They have a lack of social activities compared to people living in the city so it’s nice to be able to be there for him.” John B. explains “Because we’ve been friends for so long now, whenever I visit the farm I get my own bedroom and have the full wander of the house. I even have open access to the fridge!” It’s the kind of goodwill and hospitality that Outback Links volunteers like John Bestel encounter in rural towns across Australia.
Just a few weeks ago, John B. headed up to Yeoval again to deliver 1000 books to local schools and pre-schools. He proudly shows us the cards and photographs he received from the children as a thank you. John B’s affection not just for Farmer John’s family but for the whole community is obvious. He tells us, “Because of my Outback Links experiences, I’ve seen a life, met people and done things that I never would have if I hadn’t been volunteering with this incredible organisation.”
And would you believe it, he’s about to embark on another amazing journey with Charity TV for Frontier Services! John Bestel is one of four Frontier Services supporters participating in a joint project with Charity TV Global. This ground-breaking project’s mission is to use entertainment as a vehicle to steer global audiences into ‘giving back’. Joining John Bestel on the adventure are Lynne Charge, Derek Green and Bob Delaney. We are delighted to have them all on board as Frontier Services Ambassadors raising much needed funds for those doing it tough in the bush.