HEATHCOTE local John Wallace has lived his life by one simple motto: “you do a bit of good, and the good comes right back.”
For the past couple of years, John has been doing more than his fair share of good.
The 74-year-old has played a major role in helping disabled children in the Philippines get access to wheelchairs through the Angeles City RSL.
“It really started for me when I read an article in the local RSL magazine, The Mufty. The article was called ‘Changing Lives in the Philippines’ and it was incredible,” Mr Wallace said.
“It was all about what the Angeles City RSL in the Philippines had been doing for these disabled kids for a number of years.
“Pretty much, the RSL help out any kid that needs a wheelchair, hearing aid or any sort of help like that and they do it free of charge, it’s just amazing.
“I read what they were doing for these kids overseas and I thought to myself, I could contribute to this, so that sort of kick started it for me.”
It didn’t take long for John to realise how he could play his part – all he had to do was look outside his window.
“So I live on a 20-acre block in Heathcote and I have just been logging around there and auctioning off the wood out the front of the local IGA, and all the proceeds head over to the RSL in Angeles City.
“I just chainsaw it off to manageable sizes and then cart it back up to my saw or wood splitter — and away we go.
“People have really got behind it because they know what it is for and what the money is doing for these kids.”
Mr Wallace said he has been involved in the program for about four years and has been able to get to the Philippines “eight or nine times”.
“I went over there in November and I got to witness three young girls and one young bloke getting their new wheelchairs, and I even helped assemble one.
“The look on their faces as they were getting their new wheelchair was something I’ll never forget.”
Wheelchair Program Manager at the Angeles City RSL Chris Weeks said the role that John has played in helping these kids cannot be underestimated.
“Many people here earn less than 200 pesos a day. With a basic wheelchair costing 4500 pesos and a special wheelchair costing around 40,000 pesos, such luxuries are only in the realm of a dream for the average Filipino,” Mr Weeks said.
“By donating a wheelchair we literally take a load off the parents’ shoulders and change the lives of the entire family. Through the wonderful generosity of caring people like John, the Angeles City RSL is able to turn that dream into a reality.”
The Angeles City RSL have extended their good work beyond wheelchairs and hearing aids, with money donated from people like John now also going towards other areas of health in the Philippines.
“Given that there is no free medicine in the Philippines, the medicines we can give with this money represent a considerable help to the local population and, over the past four years, we have given free medicines to more than 36,000 children,” Mr Weeks said.
“In the same period, we have also provided in excess of 500 hearing aids and some 225 wheelchairs, the majority of which are special wheelchairs, designed for special children.
“We are the second-largest provider of wheelchairs in this country behind the national government and we simply could not do what we do without the continued support of good-hearted people like John.”
John does plan to continue his work for the Angeles City RSL in the coming years, and has no doubt he will continue heading back and forth to the Philippines — with another trip planned in the coming months.
However, he’s expecting to be presented with a slight problem in the near future.
“I’m running out of wood,” he laughed.
“I have a lot cut down at the back of my property ready to be split up, but that’ll go pretty soon.”
“So I’m going to have to wait a little bit, but I’m telling you — it is growing!”
If anyone wishes to donate to this worthy cause, contact John on 0418 342 722.