We’re so grateful that Rev Mitch Fialkowski from our Murchison Remote Area was able to join us during our recent visit to Kalgoorlie. It gave us a chance to catch up and talk about his ministry in Meekatharra.
A community concerned with COVID-19
Mitch told us his community was worried about COVID-19 reaching Meekatharra. Anxiety is running high at the moment, making Mitch more determined to check in on people and make sure they are okay.
Mitch told us Indigenous members of the community have shared their concerns about the virus’ impact on First Peoples. Some are understandably reluctant to accept visits, with one person only willing to chat through the screen door.
We are so grateful our Bush Chaplain is there for the people of Meekatharra. Concerned about the impact the pandemic is having on people’s mental health, he is making more calls than usual to check in, and tries to visit whenever possible.
“It’s in my DNA to go out,” he said.
“I’m still making visits, however, practising physical distancing.”
Sadly, panic-buying has also gripped the community with bread, eggs, meat and milk all bought up within half an hour of the delivery truck arriving in town. An added concern is the stimulus payment potentially causing an increase in alcohol consumption, prompting bottle shops to place restrictions on the daily amounts people are allowed to purchase.
“Local stores have enforced the rule ‘if it’s not in your normal shop, put it back’,” Mitch said.
Why he loves being a Bush Chaplain
Whenever we catch up with Mitch, we know he will have plenty of stories to share. The interesting and sometimes quirky situations our Bush Chaplains find themselves in exemplify the very practical nature of their work, and provide us with a bit of humour along the way.
Mitch told us being a Bush Chaplain is the best job in the world, because he gets to see more of Australia than he would having a nine-to-five job in the city with only four weeks of annual leave.
“I get to see the country and the mix of people,” he said. “My work is with those who are going through difficult times, and they often tell me I’ve helped a lot because they have someone to talk to.”
“I know I can’t give them a cure, but I’m here to listen.”
Mitch wanted to express his gratitude to the people who support our Bush Chaplains, saying, “I don’t charge people for a visit or a conversation. It’s my gift to them.”
“But there is still a cost to what I do. To those who support our ministry, thank you, you’re helping us to be with people in isolation during these tough times.”
This article is adapted from the May 2020 edition of Frontier News.