betlemme Belén pandemia

Bethlehem: Work is hope

Giacomo Pizzi9 June 2020

Even in times of pandemic, Pro Terra Sancta creates new job opportunities in Bethlehem to support families in difficulty

On May 26th the Basilica of the Nativity reopened its doors. A sign of hope for Bethlehem which is now facing the second phase of the pandemic: the economic consequences. Not knowing when pilgrims and tourists will return to the Holy Land worries the city, which bases its economy largely on tourism. Small businesses, restaurants, hotels and artisans risk not being able to move forward in the coming months, the considerable increase in unemployment is lurking.

The focus on job creation has always been a central point for Pro Terra Sancta in the development of projects in the Bethlehem area, regardless of the pandemic. For Vincenzo Bellomo, head of the Association in Bethlehem, the commitment to create new job opportunities during this progressive reopening of the city must be the priority.

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus emergency, Pro Terra Santa has managed to include 23 new people in the Association’s new jobs and activities. “All this has been made possible by the proximity of our partners and donors – continues Vincenzo – thanks to their solidarity we have strengthened our projects and implemented new actions at the service of the community. There are more and more people left without income who need to be helped”.

The project “Active Women Against Covid 19” sewn ad hoc on the social reality provides that a professional trainer teaches local women the work for the realization of protective masks. Seven people thanks to Pro Terra Santa and F.A.I. (Fondation Assistance Internationale) have found a place and a way to support their families.  Another activity funded by F.A.I., “Emergency Elderly Women of Bethlehem”, aims at securing an area at the Antoniana Charitable Society for Covid patients. This project involves 15 other people. The support action also includes help to the Antonian Society, the structure that pays the salaries of the operators, as well as the employment of workers in the renovation works. Sulaimain Morra, a local civil engineer in charge of the renovation works, says: “This project is helping me to pay the various expenses that the situation of Covid-19 has caused, thus allowing me to give my family the necessary to live”.

A few weeks ago “Water Emergency” was also restarted, a project that Pro Terra Sancta has been carrying out for some years and which was necessarily interrupted because of traffic restrictions. The project involves the installation of cisterns for the conservation of water, often lacking in Bethlehem, for families in difficulty. With the resumption of plumbing work, workers and suppliers were able, to a small extent, to continue their activities. Muna Salman, engineer and technical manager of the Pro Terra Sancta project, tells us how important these types of interventions are. “The lack of water in this period of increased restrictions is causing more and more problems for families,” he tells us. The current situation sees people out of work and for some a 50% pay cut,” explains Muna. “Resuming work means for our collaborators supporting their families, while for the people who benefit from the project it means having clean water available at this difficult time”.