Audio: Rev John Bartik in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty. Above: New arrivals taking English language classes.
A beautiful friendship has formed between Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Bankstown, and a local Anglican Church.
Families living apartments close to Bankstown Anglican Church began to turn up at the church asking for support, having fled war and persecution in Syria and Iraq and arriving with little to nothing.
The church has stepped up to help meet their practical needs with a fortnightly Mobile Pantry giving them access to affordable food items, as well as regular English classes, and blankets and heaters to help them through the winter.
In a chat with Open House presenter Stephen O’Doherty, the church’s minister Reverend John Bartik said the relationship was enriching both communities.
The newly arrived families have gained community and friendship, have begun attending church and Bible studies, are becoming familiar with the Australian way of life, and are learning the English language—while the church community is being enriched by new friendships with people from another land.
Rev Bartik helped to link a gifted 16-year-old boy from Aleppo, Mark Antonio Bonja, with a piano where he could put his musical talent to work.
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“The boy is a piano genius,” Rev Bartik said. “We connected him with a piano in a café, after two years in a refugee camp. SBS picked up the story and he’s now back on track to his dream to becoming a concert pianist.”