Hope in the midst of heartbreak
4 February 2015
“When we first met Anne, nearly a metre of water had gone through her house, kilometres of fencing had been destroyed and the property was extensively damaged. This all came on top of just losing her husband a few weeks earlier. Anne has gone through so much – drought and flood – yet she always thinks of others.” – Captain Mark Bulow
A widowed farmer from St George in Queensland’s south, Anne has experienced enough setbacks in recent years to last a lifetime – but through each ordeal The Salvation Army has been there to help.
Floods and droughts are devastating enough for farmers, but when The Salvation Army’s Flying Chaplain, Captain Mark Bulow, heard that Anne had tragically and suddenly lost her husband John through a massive heart attack, he and a counsellor flew in to offer support.
Captain Bulow flies hundreds of hours each year, visiting remote stations and communities in Australia’s outback. He covers an area extending west to the Northern Territory and South Australian borders, south to the NSW border and north to Queensland’s central west. He and his team provide services such as counselling, flood funds, food hampers, fencing supplies and drought relief assistance.
Following the death of her husband in January 2012, Anne, who had been working off-farm as a paediatric nurse, was suddenly faced with the daunting challenge of single-handedly running the family’s 56,000 hectare cattle station, called Begonia, located 500km west of Brisbane.
While reeling from the loss of her husband, devastating floods hit the region and her farm suffered massive damage. Since then, a crippling drought has slowly taken over and affected much of the area, and, to add to Anne’s woes, she recently suffered a broken leg after being attacked by “an angry cow”.
Anne has received many visits from The Salvation Army, offering emotional and practical support during this time. In turn, she has allowed The Salvation Army to use Begonia as a base to visit some of her struggling neighbours, who have also received assistance, from financial help to fencing repairs and food vouchers.
Despite her struggles, Anne has stayed on the farm and is building up a farm-stay business, as well as running cattle.
Drought, however, continues to cripple the area, and when asked about The Salvation Army team who have supported her and her neighbours for years, Anne says, “They are very special people, very positive and uplifting. When The Salvation Army first came, they explained that they were just here for a chat, to offer support in any way they could, and had a counsellor if I needed to talk at any time. I welcomed them. My father had always said The Salvation Army was a tremendous organisation and he would donate to them whenever he saw someone collecting money in the street.”
Anne says the support offered by the flying chaplain is essential. “A lot of people don’t see anyone out here; they live isolated and lonely lives. I’ve seen farmers whose wives and children have left and they have suffered breakdowns – so many!
“It makes a big difference having the Salvos around. You can trust them. They have made an enormous difference in my life.”
Anne urges people to continue donating to The Salvation Army so they can support struggling farmers. “To those who can, please continue to open your arms and donate. Basically, I couldn’t think of a more worthy organisation. I’ve said before, when I retire I will volunteer for The Salvation Army. That’s how much it’s changed my life and my thinking.
“I will ask for donations because I know how much it means – I’ve been on the receiving end.”