“Jack is a small but mighty boy. I have learnt so much from him during this experience.”
Earlier this year, a teacher showed Jack Berne, a 10-year-old boy from the northern beaches of Sydney, a video about the impact of the recent New South Wales droughts on local farmers and their livelihoods. Jack knew that he wanted to help, even in just a small way. But what he did changed the lives of hundreds of farmers across the state in a matter of days — and left Australians nationwide speechless.
That day after school, Jack went home and said to his mum, “We need to do more for the farmers.”
He had learned that the drought that was plaguing farmers across New South Wales had also rendered them unable to feed their livestock.
His entire state was impacted by the drought, leaving many farmers with failing crops, a short supply of water, and diminishing livestock feed.
Jack was horrified by the sheer volume of cattle dying and the number of families losing their farms. He wanted to help in any way possible — and right away.
He jumped into action and decided that the best way to spread the word was by emailing every newspaper and TV station in Sydney that he knew about. He hit “Send” that very same night.
The next day, Jack was at school when his mum arrived to tell him that some of the TV producers who received his email wanted to learn how they could assist Jack in helping the farmers. They recommended that the easiest way to encourage donations would be on GoFundMe, and Jack agreed.
He called his GoFundMe A Fiver for a Farmer and decided on a goal of $20,000. Any funds raised would be shared between Rural Aid and Drought Angels, two organisations working alongside farmers affected by the drought.
To his amazement, in just 48 hours Jack exceeded his target of $20,000.
He began to understand what his GoFundMe could truly achieve if he pushed it even further, so he extended his fundraising goal to $100,000 — and then $200,000.
Jack’s GoFundMe has now raised over $690,000 and counting, making it one of Australia’s highest-raising fundraisers to date.
In the weeks that followed, Jack wanted to see what the farmers were experiencing firsthand, so he spent a day working on a local farm that was badly affected by the drought. He worked alongside the three children whose parents owned the farm and decided then and there that he wants to be a farmer when he grows up. “The most important lesson I learnt that day was to make sure your cattle never get out. And… never step in poo,” says Jack.
That month, Prue’s phone rang off the hook as farmers across the state called to thank Jack personally. One evening, they even received a FaceTime call from former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to thank Jack for the work he had done.
But Jack’s proudest accomplishment was knowing that he had helped to raise awareness for the cause and helped as many farmers as he possibly could through the donations from generous Australians.
Jack likens his whole GoFundMe experience to what his mum always says about the importance of helping each other out, which he reckons is a lot like rugby: If someone misses the tackle, you have to be there — you can’t blame your teammates.
While the drought itself has passed for the time being, the damage inflicted is longstanding and has left many farmers struggling with the knock-on effects to their livelihoods.
A Fiver for a Farmer is still up and running, with donations going towards the continued repair of affected farms.