Bethlehem: Souzi’s great heart and her proximity to the elderly of the Antonian Society

Giacomo Pizzi7 April 2020

The activity coordinator of the Antonian Society with the volunteers of Association Pro Terra Sancta cooking to help the sisters and the elderly people of the Antonian Society in Bethlehem.

“We are Christians. Although we cannot figure out this moment, we must have faith”: Souzi Hazin thus ends our call. Souzi is the activity coordinator of Antonian Society since more than twenty-five years. We got in touch with her to ask her how the elederly of the Antonian Society are living this period. The facility, thanks to the service of the sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden, hosts 31 elderly people.

Souzi loves her job, she tells us without hesitation and with great passion. For years she has been managing both the home for older people and the kindergarten of the Antonian Society which temporary suspended its activities. But the centre for elders cannot stop. She is aware that older people cannot be left alone and she’s doing whatever possible to meet their needs. Since the pandemic outbreak in Bethlehem area, Souzi had to face several critical issues, especially starting from the 5th March, when the first cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Beit Jala. Lack of personnel, shortage of volunteers, miss of masks and proper equipment are the principal difficulties encountered. However, Souzi found a solution to every obstacle. With the help of Association Pro Terra Sancta, the responsible of Bethlehem area, Vincenzo Bellomo, provided the required masks. The volunteers of the Civil Service committed themselves in the kitchen and laundry. The same Souzi rolled up her sleeves and, beyond her daily duties, together with her husband Philip, she helps preparing food and shopping.

“We cannot leave them alone” she repeats as a mantra and rightly. Older people are a risk category and, certainly, those who live in the centre. Most of them have got no one and even those with family cannot receive visits. “In that period, we are their family and we must take care of them much more”.

Her husband supports her. Philip works as watchman at the University of Bethlehem and, not being able to reach his workplace, he decided to follow his wife and help her in this mission. “Our children are grown” – Souzi tells us – “One is studying in Ramallah and the other is in Italy, in Bologna. We always pray for him and for Italians”. They wait for their own daughter could join them; in the meantime, they dedicate their energy to who really need.

There is no clue how celebrate Easter but, despite everything, surely they are going to find the way to let elderly spend a pleasant day. “We cooked a traditional dessert that Palestinian families use to prepare during the Easter Week: the hope for better time and the faith will not forsake us”.