Home NewsAustralia ‘They look after me like their own father’: Retired farmer drives singing fruit pickers to churches across SA

‘They look after me like their own father’: Retired farmer drives singing fruit pickers to churches across SA

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By day David Avock picks tomatoes, however when he is off the clock he and three different males from his house nation of Vanuatu journey tons of of kilometres to carry out at church buildings throughout South Australia.

He mentioned whereas their work in Australia might have separated them, singing retains them related.

“After I discovered that the boys had been right here, I used to be very joyful as a result of we’re group singers,” Mr Avock mentioned.

Since March final 12 months, Mr Avock has been working in Port Augusta as a part of the Pacific Labour Scheme.

“Again house we used to do the identical factor, go round in communities singing and blessing their lives,” he mentioned.

One in all his fellow singers, Ronnie Ngwele, has been choosing tomatoes at a greenhouse in Two Wells via the Seasonal Employee Program.

Four Vanuatu men stand together smiling in a church. There is a crucifix on the wall behind them.
David Avock, Joel Toa, Ronnie Ngwele and Glenden Thomson have been singing collectively for greater than 25 years.(Equipped: David Avock)

Mr Ngwele mentioned singing collectively had been essential after being away from his household for 2 years.

“It brings me a lot pleasure being collectively in a bunch,” he mentioned.

Father determine

Not solely have the boys been remoted by their work, they don’t have any transport of their very own, so social contact has been tough.

That is the place retired broadacre farmer Allan Parker got here in.

“It is difficult for us travelling an extended distance however we’re joyful there’s somebody right here who can drive us round,” Mr Ngwele mentioned.

Mr Parker mentioned he met one of many males at an area memorial service the place he was captivated by his singing.

“This lad sang and I assumed, ‘Oh, what a voice’. I did not know he may sing,” Mr Parker mentioned.

Four Vanuatu men stand with an older white man. They are smiling inside a room with fluro lights on.
Mr Avock says he and the boys usually prayed and ate with Mr Parker.(Equipped: David Avock)

When Mr Parker heard how tough it was for the Vanuatu fruit pickers to sing collectively, he provided to host rehearsals at his property at Lengthy Plains and drive them to performances.

The 90-year-old mentioned a love of music and loads of free time sparked his determination to attach the quartet.

“I taught myself to play the piano 70-odd years in the past and I used to be the church organist for years,” Mr Parker mentioned.

“I simply love and revel of their music with simply stunning singing on a regular basis.”


Mr Parker estimated it value as much as $200 a weekend driving the boys in his 1997 twin cab to church buildings throughout the state.

“I am fairly joyful to do this for the sake of their firm and the music,” he mentioned.

Dwelling alone since his third spouse Jessie handed away, Mr Parker mentioned the boys had handled him like household.

“They’re very sort to me.”

New 12 months hopes

The Pacific Island Council of South Australia has been working with the Vanuatu males’s employers to see if they are often moved to work on farms nearer collectively.

Mr Avock mentioned he hoped this is able to work out.

A man in a bright green and blue checked shirt stands in a paddock
President of the Pacific Islands Council of South Australia, Tukini Tavui.(ABC Rural: Jessica Schremmer)

“If potential, it will make issues simpler subsequent 12 months that we might be on the identical farm in order that it is extra comfy for us to maneuver round and likewise practise for our performances,” he mentioned.

“Now we have enjoyable singing collectively and we really feel blessed as we’re singing to communities in South Australia.”

Within the meantime, Mr Avock mentioned he was grateful for Mr Parker’s assist.

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