“When I was a child and a teenager, I was always wishing I had grown up on a property.” These are the words of CBM supporter Jacqie Kuiters. As I talked with her, she was appropriately leaning on a country fence.
Born in Holland, Jacqie grew up in Sydney, far from paddocks filled with cattle and lambs. She was captivated by the Billabong books written by Mary Grant Bruce, which depicted a girl like herself out in the country. That was the life for her.
After leaving school, Jacqie gained a social work degree and began supporting youth, later transitioning to engagement with mental health, initially working at a psychiatric facility. Jacqie experienced her own mental illness at 29.
“I took it very hard,” Jacqie recalls. She felt she would never pursue mental health work again, but this was not to be.
She took work in Alice Springs at a community mental health clinic but on returning to Sydney discovered through neighbours an opportunity to work on a country property as a caretaker, managing the house and grounds and keeping an eye on the stock.
“I was in my second childhood and I’m finally where I belong,” she says.
Jacqie was introduced to a friend with blindness. They shared interests including country music. Her friend could not be given sight, but when Jacqie stumbled across a CBM leaflet in a Catholic magazine, she realised that there were many people in developing countries who could benefit from sight-saving medical help. Over the years she has responded to various appeals and was introduced to the idea of regular giving. She believed this could be a fine way of offering support.
On one occasion, she ran a fundraising stall for CBM, distributing pamphlets and, as she puts it, “accosting people.”
Her passion for the cause has also been expressed in her readiness to drive two hours to attend a supporter event in Canberra.
“I loved it,” Jacqie enthuses.
Her heart for CBM’s mission has been further demonstrated in her generosity to offer a donation in order to encourage matching support from others. She appreciates the way in which CBM includes and involves people in developing countries at the local level, and loves encouraging small businesses, such as women undertaking sewing projects.
She recognises that there are other Christian organisations engaged in development work, but values the way in which CBM works particularly with people with disabilities.
“Specifically helping people with disabilities to have a better life,” Jacqie says. “It is for this reason that I’ve left a gift in my Will to CBM, to continue this vital work for generations to come.”
As a woman of the country, Jacqie certainly holds a vision that encompasses the world. Keep tending those lambs.
Written by Graeme Turner who has worked at CBM Australia’s contact centre for the past five years. Graeme is a keen historian, writer and poet. Graeme lives with a vision impairment.