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Blessing rises from the ashes of a black summer

Blessing rises from the ashes of a black summer

Blessing rises from the ashes of a black summer

14 October 2020

Wayne Chamberlin is a Moneycare/Doorways financial counsellor based in Bundaberg, in Central Queensland.

By Julia Hosking

Barry and Dawn were just getting by and making ends meet when bushfires hit their rural Central Queensland town in mid-December 2019.

Barry says it’s only “from the blessing of the Good Lord that we’ve still got what we’ve got”.

The pensioner couple in their mid-70s both suffer from serious health issues, which require expensive treatments. To ease their financial situation, they had moved interstate and had recently started building their small home on their 40-acre property. The ‘Black Summer’ combination of severe drought and high winds, however, was a recipe for disaster.

After evacuating Dawn to the safety of their doctor’s house, Barry returned home to defend his property. “I’ve been a Christian all my life and I had a word to the Lord: ‘I’ve helped a lot of people over the years. I need help now!’ Before I finished my prayer, five fire trucks drove into the yard.” Together, they fought the fire, and, although some irrigation was damaged, the couple’s home was left standing.

“We didn’t have any power for 24 hours, so we lost a lot of food in our freezer,” says Barry, who also explains that typically they are largely self-sufficient by growing their own vegetables and raising chickens. Thankfully, as the dust settled, the Salvos were there to help. “We’ve been donating to The Salvation Army all our lives but had never been in a position that we needed help …. [we are grateful] they gave us some food.”

The Salvation Army representative who provided that food was Wayne Chamberlin, a Moneycare/Doorways financial counsellor. He said that in response to the Black Summer bushfires, The Salvation Army gave emergency relief to thousands of people – like food – but also made people aware of other forms of support available. Whether it was government or Salvation Army grants, No Interest Loans (NILS), phone and electricity subsidies, or counselling recommendations, the message was “help is available”.

But the impact of a disaster runs deeper than physical needs. An important part of the recovery process is keeping communication lines open. “Even though we didn’t lose anything, what we went through [with the bushfires] still left a mark,” says Barry. A regular check-in continued with Wayne, one which Barry says has been “fantastic”.

If life wasn’t tough enough grappling with the effects of the bushfire, COVID-19 added another challenge to Barry and Dawn. Due to their health concerns, their doctor ordered them into self-isolation. This was when Wayne’s emotional support really kicked in, and his assurance that they would get through this hard time together.

“Barry, Dawn and I just clicked, right from the start,” Wayne recalls. “Dawn said she always felt uplifted, every time we spoke. The conversations we had were exactly what the doctor ordered!

“Moneycare is more than just money,” adds Wayne, “we look after the whole person. Part of my role is reminding people they haven’t been forgotten. Words of encouragement and simple laughs go far in building relationships and helping people faced with trauma.”

As a case in point, Wayne shares that recently Dawn faced some sudden and serious medical issues, so Barry thought it was time to put their personal and financial matters in order.

“It was a real privilege that I received a call from Barry asking The Salvation Army to perform their funeral services,” says Wayne. “The fact that they had the faith and trust in us is truly humbling.

“Barry and Dawn have come a long way since our initial call, ‘Just to say g’day’. Their problems are far from over but instead of disaster, the bushfires of 2019 have brought a new-found hope and personal support they never dreamed of.”

Julia Hosking works as Content Specialist – Mission in The Salvation Army Brand and Campaigns Department.









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