Bethlehem, a renewed commitment to support children and young people with disabilities

Giacomo Pizzi3 September 2019

The Hogar Niño Dios is a welcome house near the Basilica of the Nativity that hosts children and young people with physical and mental disabilities, orphans or those from poor families. Contextualizing the issue of disability in Palestinian society, we are faced with a critical situation. From a social and cultural point of view, the high percentage of blood related marriages leads to the birth of children with different syndromes and malformations. Not having a social and health support system that can guarantee specialized care and that is able to accompany and help families, there are many cases of children with disabilities closed at home, isolated and abandoned.

The Hogar Niño Dios was born in June 2005 precisely to respond to this need; since the beginning it has been run by a small group of Sisters of the Institute Servants of the Lord and of the Virgin of Matarà of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word. Today the house is home to 34 children and teenagers, both male and female, Christians and Muslims from the city of Bethlehem and the surrounding areas. Most of the guests are resident in the structure, while a small part of them accesses them after lunch to participate in the afternoon activities. Children are accompanied to the structure by the families themselves or by other reception centers which, not having the resources to follow them, ask for support at the Hogar Niño Dios.

Children are taken in charge by activating educational, rehabilitative and medical-assistance programs. The multidisciplinary nature of this approach makes it possible to take care of it by constructing individual projects regarding nutrition, clothing and hygiene, actively involving various professional figures such as nutritionists, pediatricians, dentists and physiotherapists. Weekly and according to a rehabilitation plan, guests also participate in physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and music therapy interventions. The education of children is certainly a key point within the Hogar Niño Dios, so in September 2015 a specialized school was opened in the house.

But the work is not limited only within the structure, but sees the involvement of the families of the children hosted. In a society in which having disabled children is considered a punishment due to faults attributed to the family of origin. This is why it is important to have a relationship with families that promotes a better understanding of disability, building dialogue and mutual trust.

To offer this service, the Hogar must face very high costs daily, due above all to the particular needs of its small guests. As the new Superior of the house, Sister Roches, tells us, the structure is supported thanks to the help of generous and charitable people from all over the world. Among the supporters there is the association pro Terra Sancta which for several years has supported the education of some children of the Hogar. And just a few weeks ago, the Pro Terra Sancta Association in Bethlehem renewed its support for the structure and its children and “this help – says Sister Roches – will be fundamental, because it will allow us to buy educational and educational material and make it possible to register for school of some children of the house “.