Volunteering in the Holy land opens your heart. Federica tells about her experience in Bethlehem

Sixty-two: the number of days that Federica spent as a volunteer in Bethlehem between June and August. These two months run quickly and were full of activities, discoveries, encounters, people and experiences; Federica does not know where to start telling us  about her experience.

“A few months ago I came to the Holy Land for a pilgrimage. It was a turning point in my life: I opened my eyes and my heart to life and this is the way I want to keep on living. I was fascinated by the very little of the Holy Land I had the chance to see. So I promised myself to come back and discover this land more deeply. I wanted to learn about the people and their culture, and to live their everyday life. I seized a favorable moment in my life to come and I bought the flight. I was sure I was about to experience something unique”.

Through her voluntary work Federica wanted to get in touch with the living stones of Holy Land, the people who live here and are the custodians of Christians’ memory and identity.

At the beginning it was not easy, especially when I was with the old ladies in the elderly house… how could I interact with them? Slowly, and thanks to the help of those who could speak a few words of English, I could enter their world: a world filled with sad stories about the family members leaving the Holy Land, the war, and the negative changes experienced by their country. The sisters and the nurses who take care of these ladies are very special: all they do, they do it openheartedly. When you help a child you feel you are investing in his future, but when you help old ladies who are approaching the end of their lives, then it requires great generosity.”

In the morning, Federica spent her time with the children of the Hogar Niños Dios (a house for disable children). Thanks to the help of Reem, one of the kindergarten teachers, Federica could teach the children simple songs and nursery rhymes. “It breaks my heart to know that many of these children will grow up far from their land because their parents will move abroad to seek a better future. It is a great loss for the community of Bethlehem.”

These people and their stories have captivated me. At the beginning I was suffering for them, now I suffer with them. Once back home, I want to tell everyone about Holy Land, about the people I met, about my new friends and their stories. As in the end, what remains in your heart are the people.”

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