Giacomo Pizzi24 January 2020

The care that ATS pro Terra Sancta gives to people with disabilities is expressed through different projects that have the common purpose of facilitating the beneficiaries or both the local disabled population and tourists and pilgrims who live in a condition of disability and often have difficulties to reach the Holy Places.

The numbers in the Palestinian territories are clear. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, based on 2017 data, reports that people with disabilities in the Territories are around 92,710, 2.1% of the population. The unstable political situation and the difficult economic situation in the Palestinian territories only increase social differences and seriously affect the weaker sections of the population.

The project, implemented by the Association pro Terra Sancta and Mosaic Center and financed by the Foundation Assistance Internationale (FAI), develops in the three areas of Jericho, Bethlehem and Samaria where other projects have borne fruit in the past years. The goal is to support the Palestinian population through the enhancement of cultural heritage and the promotion of sustainable tourism. And tourism cannot be said to be properly sustainable unless it is also without barriers.

In Betania, pro Terra Sancta Association, already in March 2018, as part of the “Accessible Palestine” initiative, with the contribution of the Italian Cooperation and Development Agency, it had created 3D glasses to allow you to make a virtual visit to the tomb of Lazarus even to those who do not have the opportunity to go down the steep steps to reach it.

The purpose of this new joint action with the FAI in the different areas is always to promote tourism in the Palestinian Territories to benefit the development of the local community, without leaving anyone behind.

In addition to the many cultural promotion activities planned, renovation work has begun in Sebastia to make two rooms of Sebastia’s Mosaic Guesthouse accessible to wheelchairs. In this way, people with walking difficulties and who need a wheelchair to move can stay in Sebastia. Shadi, the manager of the facility, says he is enthusiastic about the project: “After 10 years the guesthouse was in need of renovation. After these works we will finally be open to everyone, no one excluded ”.

In Bethlehem, in addition to the many social works for children and children with disabilities that Associazione Pro Terra Sancta supports, a center has been created for the creation of mosaics in which young Palestinian children work. Among these boys are also Jasmine and Samah, two young women with deafness, who have found a stimulus and personal growth in their employment.

Traveling in the Holy Land with the Pro Terra Sancta Association therefore means traveling without forgetting about others and helping to create a more supportive and inclusive society.