For the elderly of Bethlehem a trip to Jericho is a reason for joy

Giacomo Pizzi11 March 2013

The complicated political and economic situation in Palestine has a major impact not only on young people and adults, but also on the elderly, who live without fixed incomes and often are perceived by their families as being a burden. Having reached old age, ill and and in some cases estranged from their families, the only thing that remains to them is the charity of those who have chosen to care for them, and the hope of still finding causes to smile at life.

At the end of January, ATS pro Terra Sancta succeeded in bringing a reason for joy to 35 elderly of the Società Antoniana in Bethlehem – the Home for the elderly in Bethlehem – by offering them an excursion to Jericho, one of the oldest cities int he world. This was the first organized excursion since the opening of the day center, and for many of the elderly it was their first visit to Jericho, even though the town is located only an hour’s distance from Bethlehem.

They were accompanied by a social worker, one of the sisters, several employees and a volunteer. An atmosphere of joy accompanied the entire group from the very beginning. On the tour bus quiz games were played, jokes were told and there was singing. After arriving in Jericho, the elderly made a stop at the Banana Land amusement park. A number of them sang and danced, others chose to go for a walk, and still others played cards or ball games. The most courageous of them, even though he walks with the aid of crutches, insisted on riding a camel!

At lunch time there was a barbecue and they were very happy to be able to lend a hand to Suor Caterina, the sister who each day prepares their meals. The excursion then continued with a visit to the Orthodox church of Deir Hajla, where many of the elderly lit candles and prayed. All of this transpired without any difficulties and they returned home late in the evening, grateful for the beautiful day spent together, which for a brief period had managed to keep their preoccupations at a distance.

This initiative was undertaken as part of the project “At the roots of Christianity: the elderly protagonists of the history of Bethlehem”, which is supported by the Italian Episcopal Conference – Committee for Charitable Interventions in Favor of the Third World, together with ATS pro Terra Sancta.