December 2013

Advent time: Hope for children born in Bethlehem today

Advent began, and in Bethlehem, in Manger Square, the crowds gathered to see the lights turned on on the huge tree, which will illuminate the square until Christmas. At this time of the year, the Palestinian city is full of celebration and joy; full of people who are there to re-live the moment which changed the history of humanity: Bethlehem, in everybody’s mind, is the place where God became a child.

And yet, few consider the situation the city’s people are living today. Hardships are many, and the people who, above all, are paying for this extremely fragile social system are the weakest, the children. To be born in Bethlehem today means arriving into the world in a difficult place, marked by suffering and poverty, especially for the children. The Christian community is getting smaller each year, more and more people are forced to emigrate, and those who remain struggle to take care of their children, to look after them, to allow them to study.

Custodians of the Holy Land for more than seven centuries, the Franciscan friars are also custodians of the “living stones” of Christianity, especially the weakest and most fragile ones. There are many children in Bethlehem who the friars take in, children like Samer and Youssef, who, without support, would have no home.

Samer and Youssef are two brothers who live in a small house not far from the Church of the Nativity. Their father can only find irregular and underpaid work, and their mother is suffering from cancer. The public health system is unfortunately insufficient, and the cost of private hospitals means that destitute families are unable to use them. So, until recently, the little money their father earnt was spent on medicine. Samer and Youssef weren’t even able to eat every day, much less go to school.

Then, the Franciscan friars of Bethlehem welcomed the two brothers into a school they run in Bethlehem. They became interested because it meant that their mother would be properly cared for, and now they can ensure that their family has enough food and essentials to move forward. They opened their arms to these two children so that they could have a future. They are doing the same with many other deprived children in Bethlehem to guarantee them an education, daily meals, medical assistance and a calmer existence.

Thanks to the campaign launch by ATS Pro Terra Sancta, called “At Christmas Time a Return to the Beginning”, it is possible to support this charitable work and make a difference for one or more children, their families, and as a result, the entire community living in the city where Jesus was born.

Find out how your help can be transformed into clothes, milk, educational support, sound equipment, medicine and medical care for those who need it. 


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