Personality of the Month: Naila, Social Worker in Bethlehem

This month Association pro Terra Sancta launches the initiative “Personality of the Month”: each month we will introduce you to a person living in the Holy Land, in order to bring you even closer to the living stones and let you breathe in the reality of these Holy Places.

The inaugural one is Naila Nasser, a social worker at the Franciscan Social Services Office of the Custody of the Holy Land in Bethlehem.

Naila, can you tell us a bit about your work?

“I enjoy being a social worker, I think that listening to the problems of others and helping them find a solution is something really important. Here in Bethlehem the people are suffering from the overall economic situation in Palestine: many are unable to find regular work, they can’t count on fixed income, and are unable to buy enough food, pay for rent and school fees for their children, buy clothes. Many families do not even have the means to pay for medical care or medicines, because they are too expensive.”

How did you come to work here?

Until 10 months ago I was working as a social worker at the nursing home for the elderly of the Società Antoniana of Bethlehem, but when they offered me possibility of a position where I could put use my experience to use helping those in need who come to the Counseling Center, I was happy to accept the new challenge.

In concrete terms what are your activities on a daily basis?

During the week my work is divided between days in the office welcoming and listening to people in need, and mornings spent on home visits, especially to the elderly and sick. I try to give them moral support, making them feel my closeness to their problems. And, apart from listening, giving them vouchers for purchasing food and medicines, clothing or shoes, depending on their individual needs.

Naila, what do you like most about your work?

The opportunity to brighten people’s lives and the fact that some even phone me to wish me a good morning! This is what I love about life in Bethlehem, and my work: the people, their kindness, their hospitality. Despite the difficult political, economic and social situation, Palestinians never give up their hope for a better future nor stop looking for something that, when evening comes, they can give thanks.

What would you say to those who have decided to support these works of the Franciscans in Bethlehem?

What I see each day is that Providence has a big heart, and that it is good fortune that these people can count on the Franciscans of the Holy Land and its many friends who support us from afar. Without the assistance provided by the friars and their benefactors, the majority of Palestinians of Christian faith would have already emigrated elsewhere!

What I see in my work is that the Custody is making a major contribution to the young and old, not only in the social and educational areas but also in terms of nutrition and health. The aid provided by the FSSO, the Franciscan Social Services Office, is thus a comprehensive support that focuses on the individual in his entirety, in his true humanity, without regard for race, sex or religion. And for this we have to thank the many friends who remember us each day!