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HOW THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS SAVED A DESPERATE FARMER

What act of kindness encouraged South African sheep farmer SIMEY DE KLERK at one of the most stressful times of his life? He told SUSAN SEGAR
simey de klerk farmer rp
Sheep farmer Simey de Klerk, pictured here in the middle of hard times, had been pushed by drought to the brink of disaster when strangers stepped in with an act of kindness
Simey and his wife Louwna live on the farm he grew up on near Calvinia in the Northern Cape and have two adult sons, actuary Simey Junior and engineering student Dirkie

‘Four years ago, a severe drought started in the Calvinia area: one of the worst we’ve ever had. By 2017, my farm was getting only 38ml of rain instead of the average 200.

Things got so bad that there was nothing for our sheep to eat in the veld. We ran out of cash to buy in feed and eventually were unable to feed them. Eventually in August 2017, a week before Calvinia’s annual meat festival, I was down to my last two bales of rough feed and had less than half my normal number of sheep. Some had died, others had been taken by predators and others I had sold. It was the most stressful time of my life. My older son had to take over his younger brother’s university loan from me, and I was just so worried all the time.

farmer drought
Five million hectares of  farmland that are pasture to nearly 800, 000 sheep have been affected by drought in South Africa’s Northern Cape

Yet somehow I knew God would come through. I believe I’ve seen Him do it before in my life, so I prayed all over my farm, especially when we were feeding sheep and I could see how hungry they were. I also prayed for the patience to be able to wait for God’s timing.

When the festival started, I was on access control duty and went to fetch a warm top from my wife’s car, which was parked in front of my bakkie. As I got to her car, I saw some men watching me. They told me they were farmers and one asked me whether I knew who the bakkie belonged to. He said it must have clocked up a lot of kilometres! I told him it was mine.

‘The difference this kindness made to my life is indescribable. It’s been a very humbling experience’: farmer Simey de Klerk with family. From left to right: younger son Dirkie,  Simey, wife Louwna, older son Simey Junior, grand-daughter Emma and daughter-in-law Nielen

The farmers asked me to walk with them to their lorries and said they’d brought feed with them to give away. They said they wanted to give some to me and offered me 15 round bales of lucerne and 50 bags of mielies. I became very emotional and told them I had prayed so hard. Quietly, they hugged me. Later, they unloaded the feed on a farm near to the town and I transported it to my farm.

The difference this made to me is indescribable. For the next three months I had feed for my sheep that I wouldn’t have been able to buy. I thanked the men profusely for their gesture and have kept in touch with them via email ever since.

I believe the donation was nothing short of a miracle, truly manna from heaven, and that Jesus Christ worked in their hearts.’

hantam fest rp
The Hantam Meat Festival. It was here that Simey’s desperate situation was alleviated by three young strangers  |  Photos: Hantam Vleisfees Facebook page

Thislife Online tracked down two of the people involved in this donation, Thinus and Christine Grobler. They elicited donations from farmers in their area via the Onderberg Farmers’ Association, and along with two other farmers accompanied a truckload of feed for 30 hours all the way to Calvinia, stopping only for a two-hour sleep at the side of the road. ‘I did this because I heard God speak to me and say I must make a plan for these farmers,’ says Tinus (62). ‘It was a wonderful opportunity to help and an amazing experience to see the relief on their faces.’ His wife Christine says: ‘It’s not about us, it’s about helping farmers like Simey who have to battle every day. No words can describe what it meant to us to do this.’

Clockwise: 1. Some of the farmers and drivers involved in the feed donation. The sign on the back of the truck reads: ‘Drought help for Calvinia from Onderberg farmers!’  2. The truck en route to Calvinia, photographed from the support vehicle which carried spare tyres  3. Tinus and Christine Grobler, who felt a calling to help farmers in Calvinia and were part of the team that drove for 30 hours to bring relief  4. Calvinia farmers receiving the feed donations from the truck
Winter 2018 update: ‘We’ve had lots of rain,’ says Simey. ‘In one weekend we had about 31ml, so there’s food for the sheep in the veld again. We’re feeling so much more optimistic. I’ve learnt through all of this how South African farmers stand together, and to move closer to God when times aren’t good.’
 
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