June 2014

Four new apartments have been finished for the Arab Christian community in Jerusalem: The Living Stones of Memory

From the beginning of the year, the Technical Division of the Custody of the Holy Land has worked endlessly to start new works but at the same time finish some demanding and big-scale projects like the one at the complex of Theodory. This project started in July 2011, and has demanded a special focus in the execution of the excavations and the works of structural reinforcement. This was a huge effort in regards to operations, and it has allowed us to acquire new skills in the execution of the works and in devising new solutions during the course of the works. Two apartments that used to be completely run down and without any essential living comforts are now ready to provide accommodation to two families, and two more units, which didn’t exist before, will soon be available.

These results wouldn’t have been possible without our team of local workers who, since the end of 2010 have been working full-time under the lead of the Technical Division. Making use of a an internal workforce, the Custody of the Holy Land offers work opportunities to the local Arab population and is in a better position to offer a more efficient response to the numerous requests for help by the Christian population. One of the apartments at Theodory house, where the work is still ongoing, will be used for a family that at the moment is living in rented accommodation but is having serious difficulties to cover the accommodation expenses as well as the development of their three children.

Also at the hosh in Dar El Kabire, a previously abandoned apartment that needed an urgent intervention has recently been refurbished. Thanks to the close relationship between the Custody of the Holy Land and the planning team, it has been possible to do the refurbishment according to the needs of the family. Thanks to the introduction of a mezzanine and a new internal structure, the apartment has been completely renovated in order to increase the size of the small spaces that were available at the beginning. The constant objective of every intervention is to take as much advantage of the available space as possible and make available as many apartments as possible, offering at the same time adequate hygienic and living conditions. The refurbishment of this apartment has allowed us to completely restore the internal courtyard, a traditional element in the local architecture and centre of the daily life of every family.

The neighbouring complex of Atallah has also been subject to an intervention focusing on the refurbishment of the exterior. In this case, the renovation of the roof and the façade were especially urgent, due to some damage in the drainage system. In order to solve the big problems caused by the water damage, the intervention was extended to the internal part of the building as well, in order to provide the family with a healthy and more comfortable place to live in.

In the next few months, thanks to the workers who are already active, we will open new accommodation options for other young Christian families. Supporting the project “Jerusalem, Stones of Memory” promoted by the Association pro Terra Sancta is the only way of helping the local community to stay in the places where Jesus lived, but above all, to make sure that this community continues to be the living testimony of the first Christians. For this reason, there is a constant need of everyone’s support.

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