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Read the Opinion piece by Anne Lynn, Executive Director, published in Episcopal Life, on why humanitarian aid in the Middle East matters. Click here...
Om David is a cheerful woman who's almost completely incapacitated. Her husband died several years ago, her two children emigrated to South American a decade ago, and she's bed‐ridden with circulatory problems resulting from diabetes. It's hard to know what keeps her smiling, with a kind word for everyone and joy in her heart.
Om David was independent until her physical condition deteriorated when Ramallah was almost completely surrounded by checkpoints. It became impossible for her to get to a hospital. The disease quickly and permanently damaged her legs and feet.
Fr. Hanna Daleh, priest at St. Andrew's Parish is Ramallah, visits her and brings her food. Om David eagerly awaits the opening of the St. Andrew's Clinic at the church in Ramallah. The combination of primary care and high quality advanced care for diabetics will allow her to receive good care locally, something that is currently impossible.
The clinic was built as a three storey addition on top of the parish hall and awaits the purchase and installation of specialized equipment for diagnosing, assessing and maintaining diabetes. Fr. Hanna is pictured at the left of the page in the new waiting room. Because of genetic factors, Palestinians have between 4 and 5 times the rate of this debilitating condition as those in the US. Without adequate treatment, it takes vital, productive heads of households and turns them into unemployed dependents.
The clinic will provide services on a sliding scale to insure that everyone has access. But the waiting room stands empty now, waiting for the children and older people who will benefit from care that will keep them healthy. They're waiting for your gift to make it happen........
Fr. Hanna in the new waiting room
May 2011- St. Andrew's Clinic Ready to Open
Some of us know him -- all of us should. Fr. Fuad Dagher leads a parish in Shefa Amr, a mid-sized city on an ancient trade route between Haifa and Nazareth. It's now home to Muslims, Christians and Druze in verdant northern Israel farmland. It's also home to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a small but growing congregation working hard to stabilize the dwindling Christian community.
Fr. Fuad preaches, plays the organ and guitar and exudes energy which draws parishioners, visitors and townspeople to his ministry of inclusion. Fr. Fuad saw a need to provide a gathering place for the entire community, from all faith traditions, for concerts, summer camp, festivals and family celebrations. And this place could be right at St. Paul's. After meeting
with other faith leaders in the Shefa Amr, contributions of labor, materials and funds came forward.
An abandoned adjacent property was purchased, volunteers and paid workers joined to rebuild the old structure and construct a large plaza in front for outdoor performances, activities and celebrations. See the results to the righ of the page.
Funding came from friends near and far. Donors from the US who had visited the parish were particularly generous, notably the Diocese of Los Angeles, Sue and Sandy Smock and a parish in Lexington, Kentucky honoring its outgoing rector. It literally took a worldwide village to create this center of creativity, positive energy and hope.
June 2011- Building Community in Shefa Amr
Click here to read about Bishop Suheil Dawani’s address to the International Conference on Christians in the Holy Land, July 18-19, Lambeth Palace August 2011 - There’s always uncertainty in the Middle East -- it’s almost the definition of the place. But the combination of “Arab Spring,” the connection to Hamas and a possible UN vote on Palestinian statehood has increased the tension and the stakes. Click here to read full opinion piece by Anne Lynn.
Today's main story is about two people who've never met. Yet their lives are now connected in a permanent and important way. A pilgrim leaves California on a vacation to Jerusalem and comes home with a changed heart. A student worries about her future and, with the help of a few intermediaries, is now a college freshman.
The picture above is Birzeit University, outside of Ramallah. It's a commuter school in a land where travel is extremely difficult. Most teachers use course packs instead of textbooks because the cost and availability of books for individual students is prohibitive. Yet learning happens. Minds are changed. Joan made it happen for one teenager. You can too.
"Visiting Israel was a very moving experience for me. I came away wondering how I could make just a little difference." From this beginning, Joan Short literally changed a life for a student in the Holy Land. Joan made the decision to fund a full university scholarship for a graduate of a Diocesan school. And so Tala Shunnara entered Birzeit University this month, something that would not have happened without Joan. They've never met in person, but now they correspond by email and both lives are touched.
Tala graduated from the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School in Ramallah, a student there since kindergarten. Her two younger brothers continue there and her mom is a teacher of special needs children at the school as well. Tala's dad is a social worker at a rehab center. Both parents are poorly paid, and with three tuitions to pay, the family is unable to afford a car much less university for Tala.
Enter Joan Short, President of Worldwide Golf and Tennis, a specialty travel agency and a member at Saint Michael and all Angels in Corona del Mar, California. A group from the parish made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this spring and met with the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem. Joan describes the moment when she decided: "We met with the Bishop who touched my heart with his commitment to education as a path to peace. So now it's my time to give a gift which can make a big impact for Tala. Giving her a chance for a university education has made me so happy, and I hope that others will consider making a donation for education through AFEDJ.
Each and every contribution toward scholarships makes a difference to a child in the Holy Land. Large or small, each gift offers a student the benefit of an education which incorporates respect for differences, tolerance and conflict resolution into the curriculum. Each Diocesan school helps stabilize communities and encourage educated families to stay and help lead the region to a lasting peace. Please make a gift with a lasting impact. Secure, online giving is quick, easy and offers lasting benefits to both you and the recipient.
Tala plans to study English in college and then teach. With help from donors like Joan and you, students can say to you what Tala said to Joan: "Thanks so much for your kindness. It means the world to me that I can go to college. God bless you."
September 2011 - Joan and Tala A Pilgrim's gift changes a life in the Holy Land
The residency permits and visas that enable Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani and his family to reside legally in Jerusalem have been reinstated after 13 months of the documentation being denied by Israel's Ministry of Interior. (More)
September 27, 2011 - Jerusalem bishop's residency permit reinstated
after months of international diplomacy
The US Congress has voted to withhold promised foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority. This may seem like good politics to some, but the result is potentially disastrous for the poor and disabled in the Holy Land.
In the US, a child in a wheelchair is, blessedly, a rarity. A blind or deaf child even more so. But at the Princess Basma Centre for Disabled Children in East Jerusalem, there are 8 children with cochlear implants – and that’s the 4 years old class. And those children are pictured above. There are dozens with leg braces and thick glasses. They come from all over the West Bank since the Centre is a regional referral resource, with the best available services for those with disabilities of all types. Why are there so many disabled people in the Holy Land?
Betty Majaj, Director of Princess Basma, explained that untreated childhood infections, unvaccinated children, a culture of close marriages, late intervention and genetics are the primary causes. Lack of access to primary care can mean that small, treatable conditions needlessly result in permanent disabilities.
US foreign aid funds humanitarian aid around the world. And it helps Princess Basma’s outreach to 30 communities. They provide the follow-up care for those who have been through a program at the Centre and then returned to their home villages. It’s also the early diagnosis opportunity for rural children. Without outreach, more will be unable to contribute to their families and their communities, unable to reach their potential. And they become a burden and a cultural embarrassment for already struggling families. In addition to concern about funding for the outreach program, the cost of heating fuel has risen dramatically in the last year. Sick children need heated rooms. The Centre cannot afford to fill the hydrotherapy pool which provides relief to those with constricted muscles and coordination problems.
October 2011 - Princess Basma Centre is caught by US policy
November 2011 - The Blind Teach the Blind
A priest and his wife were sent to a small, struggling parish in Irbid, a bustling city in northern Jordan. Samir Esaid and his wife Sabah Zurikat met families who said they had three children, but they only ever met two - or one. They came to learn that the "missing" children were kept at home because they are blind. From this observation came an extraordinary ministry, the Arab Evangelical School in Irbid. The school was the first in Jordan to mainstream blind and sighted children in each class. The King of Jordan visited the school to honor this achievement and to bring attention to the need for more schools like it. Last month, Phoebe Griswold, President of the Board of AFEDJ along with 18 pilgrims, visited the school. Read full story here....
As our readers already know, the Princess Basma Centre is struggling. They were forced to terminate 10 highly trained staff last week. "I've been so impressed by the spirit they all showed; one of them, out of commitment to the Center, has asked to remain as a volunteer as a full duty staff without pay," wrote Betty Majaj, Director of the Centre. That broke our hearts.
But there's joy as well. On March 8, International Women's Day, Betty Majaj was honored as the "First Distinguished Lady of Jerusalem for the Year 2012." The next day, the entire staff gathered at the entrance under a banner in her honor to welcome and congratulate her. This recognition highlights the critical and unique work done here to support the least among us. Read more...
March 2012 - Princess Basma Centre is Struggling
While some work remains to be done, the dedication is to be held later this month. Celebrate with Fr. Fuad, the parishioners of St. Paul's and the entire town of Shefa Amr with a prayer, a financial gift or a visit to this place of faith. Help make this parish a magnet for Christian community and support as they do God's work in a volatile place. Pilgrims welcome!
June 2012 - Emergency Appeal
We thought you'd want to know immediately that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has halted funding to Ahli Hospital in Gaza effective today. Ahli has operated continuously since 1882 and doesn't plan to stop caring for desperately poor Gazans now! A substantial proportion of their operating funds come from UNRWA which itself sustained a 21% shortfall in funding in 2012. Read more...
July 2012 - Good News for the Diocese of Jerusalem
We received word yesterday (July 25, 2012), that Ahli Hospital in Gaza will receive a bridge financing contract from UNRWA for 6 months. This will give the hospital and the Diocese time to create a strategic plan which will allow them to continue to provide for patients without UNRWA funding. The Diocese has engaged a consultant, is working with public and private insurers and international agencies to develop this plan.
November 2012 - Christ School in Nazareth is in great need of scholarship help. Many families can no longer pay the fees and the school now faces substantial debt. Tuition is $1500 a year or $150 a month. Any amount will help. Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza is operating on an extension of its UNRWA funding. This will end in January. The Diocese is developing a business plan to continue without UNRWA, but until that plan is in place, it's up to us and other donors to keep the doors open. This is the last Christian institution in Gaza. We have to support Suhaila Tarazi and her amazing staff. Please make this need more widely known. open.
St. Andrew's Clinic in Ramallah was built and equipped with your help. It will open before the end
of the year to patients with diabetes and those suffering from the vascular effects of this debilitating disease. Patients will need subsidy however, as most have no insurance and few have the ability to pay. Each visit costs between $25 and $100. Could you underwrite a visit or two? The Jofeh Center in the Jordan Valley teaches job skills to disabled adults and sells their products, providing income and great pride for the workers. Three days a week, the Center offers classes for mentally disabled children who cannot attend school. They learn life skills like counting, hygiene and safety. It costs only $300 a day to keep the center
November 2012 - Many of you remember that a major funding source for the hospital is the UN agency responsible for refugees, UNRWA. UNRWA withdrew funding from Ahli beginning early next year, wishing to concentrate its own dwindling resources on food security and a smaller number of healthcare institutions.
The Diocese of Jerusalem commissioned an analysis from PriceWaterhouse Coopers which outlines options for keeping the hospital open, serving patients, in a financially sustainable way.
That analysis with recommendations arrived last week and has been reviewed by the Bishop and the financial staff. All this during a humanitarian crisis impacting hundreds of thousands of families.
We're excited to report that a way forward has been agreed upon. Al Ahli Hospital will continue its 110 year history of serving those in need regardless of religious or ethnic background. While Gaza has been buffeted by politics, colonialism and devastating destruction, the hospital has endured. It will continue to do so with your help.
The Rev. Dr. Deborah Dresser, President of the Board of Trustees of AFEDJ, encourages your help. "In this time of crisis it is imperative that the services of Al Ahli hospital continue. The child with shrapnel in her leg, the mom who is still unconscious from the explosion in her neighborhood--these and the lives of thousands in Gaza directly affected by the bombing depend on it. I ask you to make a tangible difference in the lives of these people by making a donation to Al Ahli hospital as an expression of our faith in a compassionate God."
January 2013 - Janette carried her 4 year old into the emergency room at Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. Tears streamed down her face. The little girl moaned, hidden in a blanket. The nurse directed them to a section reserved for children with life threatening burns - the hospital sees an average of 75 a day. The cause? According to Suhaila Tarazi, Director of the hospital, the cause is poverty. We think of Mediterranean countries as being warm. But Gaza is not only cold in winter, 40 degrees at night, but was hit with a storm that brought high winds, floods and snow flurries last week. Even houses with heat suffer from fuel shortages. And most have no central heating source at all. Families burn anything in any container available to keep their children warm. The result too often is tragedy. We've heard about bombing victims, and we know that Gaza has more than its share of chronic illness due to poor sanitation and delayed treatment. But news of these little burn victims hit us hard. We have to help.
March 2013 – Upcoming Events
Thursday, April 4 for those in the Rochester NY area, Mark Braverman, author of "Fatal Embrace" and several other books, will speak at the Ithaca Auditorium of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester. He'll speak at 1:30 and then again on April 5 at 10:00 am. Please register.
Saturday, April 6 for those of you in the Los Angeles area, Sabeel offers an all day conference "Justice and Only Justice" at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 E Colorado Blvd. Cost is $55 including dinner and more information is available here.
If you're in the Washington DC area, the Jerusalem Fund screens a film series with showings several times a month. In addition, their gallery features a new artist each month with openings open to the public. They're located at 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington 20037.
Sunday, April 7 for those in the Fairfield County Connecticut area, St. Mark's in New Canaan will host Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News with oversight for 60 Minutes as their 9 am speaker. You may remember the segment 60 Minutes did last year with Bob Simon about the situation in the West Bank. Mr. Fager will address the viewer reaction to it and much more.
Friday, May 3 Are you near St. Petersburg, Florida? Please join the AFEDJ Board of Trustees for a cocktail reception at St. Peter's Cathedral. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details and an invitation. We'd love to meet you!