Along the famous shopping street of the Mamilla Mall, amid luxury shops and jewelers, stands the façade of an imposing neo-Romanesque church that is part of the hospice of the Daughters of Charity of the order of Saint Vincent de Paul built in 1885 to treat leprosy patients. Yet since its early years, the structure was not only a house for the sick, but also anyone in need to find a home and help.
Since then the sisters’ mission has not changed, the five sisters who live in Jerusalem dedicate themselves with passion and devotion to the weakest: children, the elderly and the disabled. They run a kindergarten with about 200 children from the first months of life up to the preschool age of eight different nationalities: most of them are Arabs coming from both Christian and Muslim families, but there are also children of internationals, Filipino parents who came to Israel looking for of work, and children children of migrants, Ethiopians and Eritreans, born in Israel from parents who fled their countries of origin, to escape the civil war and the dictatorship. The latter need more care and attention because they come from families in serious economic difficulties. Because of their particular status, parents find it difficult to find work, and in case it happens, they are often humble jobs, occasional and poorly paid. “We try to meet these families by paying a reduced fee, or we ask for help from the municipality or other benefactors”, says Sister Simone, director of the whole complex. She tells us about one of the many requests for help she has to face every day: a young Eritrean mother came to her in tears asking to be helped, abandoned by her husband, she found herself alone with a 3 year old girl and in the middle of another son. “We have welcomed the daughter and we will welcome the newborn to allow the mother to work and maintain the family and, until the situation is clear, she will have to pay only a minimum quota.”
Arabic, Hebrew, English; in the kindergarten a lot of languages are taught and spoken, it is a multicultural environment that, to meet the different needs, offers a service seven days a week, alternating the days of rest: Friday for Muslims, Saturday for Jews, Sunday for Christians remain open from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon in order to facilitate working parents. “We see many difficult situations: families with economic problems, single mothers, divorced parents who can not stay at home with their family because they are forced to do two or three jobs at the same time. We welcome everyone and try to offer them the best with what we have. So many children need clothes and to be washed and fed with healthy and substantial meals and we will take care of them “.
The Association pro Terra Sancta supports the activities of the Daughters of Charity and this their unique kindergarten a few steps from the Old City of Jerusalem that welcomes the last and the less fortunate by putting into practice the teachings of charity of St. Vincent de Pauli, considered the most important reformer of charity in the Catholic Church.