Bethlehem: Help for families to pay for childbirth. 18 children born.
Childbirth costs too high for some families in difficulty. At Christmas, Pro Terra Sancta’s focus is on families and children.
For the Christian families of Bethlehem, a new birth has always been a source of great joy. A gift to celebrate and be thankful for. The Coronavirus threatens to ruin this special moment for so many families. A new life can unfortunately become too great a burden to bear because of the economic crisis. Naila Nasser, social worker for Pro Terra Sancta in Bethlehem, explains that many couples are unable to afford the hospital costs of giving birth. “The cost of a normal hospital birth is 2,600 nis (about 650 euro), but if you take into account practices such as an epidural or a caesarean section, the cost can reach almost 5,000 nis,” Naila continues. For many families in need, this is too high.
This is why Pro Terra Sancta, in collaboration with the social workers at the Holy Family Hospital, is trying to help young couples, families and mothers with the cost of childbirth and the first months after the birth of the child by providing milk, nappies and medicines.
“Many people come to us with a great weight on their shoulders. Mothers worried about the future of their children,” says Naila. As a social worker for Pro Terra Sancta for more than five years, she knows very well the needs of the families in Bethlehem: “Many mothers who ask us for help come from families to whom we have given support over the years”.
Najib and Lama, for example, are the parents of two beautiful children: Hanna (born in 2016) and Ivan who was just born this August. Lama is a housewife and her husband, a carpenter, has been out of work because of Covid-19. The young couple in the early years of their marriage had also faced medical expenses due to Lama’s illness. “We feel responsible for these families,” says Naila worriedly, “we feel obliged to do something to help them. We never say no to help with childbirth.” In 2020 alone, 18 women and families were helped, 18 babies were born thanks to the help of Pro Terra Sancta and Naila’s care and attention.
The family shares the cost with Pro Terra Sancta from 20 to 50 per cent depending on economic conditions. “We want people to participate actively, because the choice to have a child and to take care of it must be experienced as a responsibility”. Bethlehem is the city in Palestine that is suffering the most from the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 blockades. More than 80 per cent of the people worked in the tourism industry. For about a year now, many families have found themselves with both parents unemployed and without any state aid. The lack of tourists and pilgrims is affecting many sectors.
Worry and fear also have a negative psychological effect. More and more people are calling Naila for support. “As we approach Christmas, our efforts are focused more on families with children, who are suffering the most from this economic crisis, through no fault of their own”. During the festive season, Pro Terra Sancta tries to help families by offering them a small donation for Christmas in order to help parents especially during this period and make them feel less alone. “This Christmas is not going to be easy,” she concludes, “but despite the difficulties and hardships, I have also seen a lot of solidarity between people and this is the most important thing”.