Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Christmas 2020

 


Christmas 2020

                                                                                                        

Dear 


“All the end of the Earth have seen the saving power of God… Sing joyfully to the LORD all you Lands;

Break into song; sing praise.”      

                                                                     

It’s time to wish each of you and your families many Joys and Blessings for the Christmas season! This year I must add my wishes that you are free of the COVID virus and living carefully.

 What a strange Christmas 2020 will be! Physically we must be distant from each other, yet may this time of restraints which separate us in one way bring us together in other ways. We still have our cell phones with these devices: skype, zoom, what’s up and viper to keep connected with each other.

In recent years I use this Christmas letter as an opportunity to bring you up-to-date on what has been happening with our programs in Gaza. When the corona hit in mid-March we tried to go on with our programs, but Sabah, our lady who runs the programs there, was detained in Turkey visiting her children and was unable to return to Gaza until September. She ran our programs through Wesel, our social worker, those months when Sabah was away. With the schools closed (they still are closed) we could only care for the sick monthly. Getting funds transferred to our account was another problem as Brother Lorenzo, who makes the monthly transfer, was in Italy on his home visit. The parish priest came to our assistance and he paid the bills at the pharmacy and Lorenzo was able through another aid organization to transfer money to reimburse him. We missed only two months of assisting the sick in receiving their needed medications. The Lord still runs our programs there. He truly loves the people!

When Sabah returned in September, she evaluated the situation. The COVID was so bad in Gaza by then that the pre-schools were not able to open. The virus has struck 35% of the population since March. People stayed at home when they contacted the corona as the hospitals hadn’t the resources to respond to their needs. Whole refugee camps or towns were under lockdown for weeks at a time to control the spread of the virus. For a long time people did not have masks to wear.

We received funds to repair some six homes before the winter rains. The rains would quickly drench families due to faulty roofs.  Homes are often without doors and windows; Bathrooms and kitchens are often broken down. Many have handicapped members who sleep on mats on the floor and are soaked when it rains. Our two ladies had already identified with our team the homes which critically needed renovations. Two homes a month have been renovated. You can’t imagine the joy shared in these families now with a safe, hygienic and proper home.

In November we received funding from Al Omri of Germany to feed 100 families for six months. We are so grateful for this funding as most few cannot find work to assure some food for themselves. We’ve never before seen so many hungry families in Gaza! 

The assistance we are able to provide to the very poor is due to your generosity during this critical year and through other years as well.  You have been keeping us going through wars and other disasters for many years. Together we can make a difference for many families. Still the Lord seems to come to the aid of these people caught in a very bad situation.

Know that you and your families have top priority as we raise your intentions to the Lord this Christmas. May he care for your every need and keep you healthy!

I’ll add a personal note, I have been missioned to our Hospital in Nazareth to serve the seniors in the geriatric department animating their activities. I’ve already gotten very attached to these women and men who are not so different from the sweet children and young adults with whom I worked in Haifa. Being older myself, I seem to fit right in to this funny bunch. My three sister companions have been welcoming and supportive too.

                                                                              

Love and prayers,

                                                            

Our team: Bro.Lorenzo, Sr. Julian,

                                                                Sr. Sandra, Sr. Frantiska and 

                                                                                               Sr. Susan







                                             See the children’s and mother’s joy 

                                            after their home was renovated!



                                                  

Monday, October 26, 2020

October 2020

 


October 2020

 

To give all of you an update on events in Gaza thanks to Sabah’s presence and that of Wasel our programs continue. The critically ill have been able to receive medications that they need this month. As usual this includes children, men and women. They are only 30 people this month as many areas are closed due to the corona virus. This means that people cannot get to the pharmacy to pick up their medicines.

Our pre-schools are still closed due to the virus.

Despite all we are able to renew two homes. We are anxious to do so before the fall rains begin. Families must find a place to live while the renovations go on. This is not easy for them to do as the families are large and often there is a disabled person among them. We hope to do two more home renovations also in November.


Photogallery

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Update Summer 2020


With summer behind us and fall is almost here it’s time to give you an update on events in Gaza. The good news is that Sabah and her husband are home safely. Sabah who manages our programs was abroad since January. She is back to work, yet there is a lock down there due to many cases of the corona among the population. She and Wasel, our social worker, are working from their homes. The medical program where 40 to 45 people receive urgently needed medications continues. The pre-school are all closed, yet hopefully next month they will be able to open. The 170 very poor families who cannot pay the school fees for their children are again assured that Al Omri will cover this expense for them through December and maybe longer if needed. We have the funding to repair more homes. The first will be started in October if the materials are available in the market and people can circulate again. We hope to repair a second one before the winter rains begin in November.

Our team of two brothers and three sisters are hoping to get down for a visit there soon. Three of us are awaiting our coordination’s to enter when the border is open again. We have no idea when this will be. Thanks to cell phones we keep in contact with our two ladies, the parish priest and the sisters with whom we stay with when we are there.


Photogallery

Monday, August 3, 2020

Update on things in Gaza



Let me give you an update on things in Gaza. Sabah, our lady who runs our programs, left with her husband to visit their children at the end of January.

They planned to return in March, but the virus hit and they couldn't travel back and our four pre-school closed. Our social worker was able to keep our medical program running until this month as the parish priest helped us to pay the pharmacy who gave the sick their medicines. After months of difficulties, this month a money transfer was done so that we can pay back the parish priest. We plan to keep our medical program going. The future is unknown as to whether the pre-schools will open or not. We have the funding to repair two homes still, yet much will depend on if Sabah can return soon. Today she and her husband are at the border now waiting with 5,000 other people to get across to get home. Please pray with us that they can get in. This is the situation. We sisters and brothers have not been able to go down to visit since January as the borders have been closed as well as the other restrictions due to the virus. We have kept in contact by phone and email.

Our friends and benefactors who read our website please keep us in prayer, so that we can even accomplish more once Sabah is able to return. Poverty is evident more and more as the pandemic effects the economy.



Sr. Susan 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Happy Christmas


Dear Friends,
We are wishing you a Christmas bright with the shining miracles of hope,
Peach and Joy.
The group of us following the programs we have in Gaza send you this Christmas greeting as due to your generosity we have been able to serve many families who have been in difficulties. This 2019 has not been easy on the people. Unemployment which has gone as high as 80 % of the population has greatly limited the parents’ ability to provide the essentials such as food, safe housing, and medical treatment for their children and sometimes the grandparents who live among them. 
Due to your donations we have been able to continue to feed over 400 children in the four pre-schools as well as provide for the classrooms needed materials to assist the education going on there. Playground toys have been repaired and over 450 winter coats have been given to these pre-school children. 
Five homes which have been in very unsafe and substandard conditions have been renovated providing families from 8 to 12 members with: doors, windows, bathrooms, kitchens and many times roofs and flooring. These families no longer are exposed to the cold, wind and the rain this winter. In the coming months donations will be arriving to continue the renovations of 4 or 5 homes.
Urgent medications for the handicapped, babies, children of all ages, parents and the senior citizens living all together have been provided for over 200 individuals.
Muslim families tell us their critical situation and know that they are helped by Christians from abroad who are aware of their political situation. This effects their economy and their wellbeing. The Christian families who are served know that they are not forgotten. 
I have seen a glimmer of hope in recent months as now 5,000 men are allowed to go to Israel to find work, and more who are ill are now allowed to cross the border for surgery or medical treatment. Pray with us that this hopeful reality will open to new economic possibilities for collaboration between the two political peoples.
May you and your families be blessed this Christmas and all through 2020! 
                                                                        Sr. Julianna, Sr. Maria
                                                                        Sr. Sandra, Sr. Susan
                                                                        Br. Lorenzo and Br. Martino

Visit December 2019




VISIT December 10 and 11 2019
Sr. Maria and I went down this month with all the suitcases we could bring. She had received wonderful vitamins for the children in the schools and we had also received new cloths for children of all sizes. 
First we visited a disabled little girl of six that had really benefited well from the medications which we have been able to provide for her. After we visited a home which was to be completed in a week’s time. The work was well done despite rains that had come the day before. Next we went to our office where five of the heads of our four schools awaited us for their monthly meeting. The meeting went real well. They brought us up on the latest events happening in each school. Each pre-school had received young professionals who had just graduated from the University and who need a job experience. They are: psychologists, social workers, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Some schools have or two and one school has four. In the Musaddar area still suffers shelling nights, so 80 of their 150 children need help with speak therapy. The trauma of the war has affected their speech. We ended with a nice meal together made by the Zahar Women’s Associations Kitchens. In the afternoon we spent discussing things in our office and at Sabah’s home I was able to use their internet to do paper work.
The second day we started out in the office and then as the bank opened we went  to the bank. After we visited two homes both of critical need of repairs. Again both homes were very wet due to the rains that they had received several days earlier. One home had three very cute boys two of whom are mentally disabled. They were home as the schools would not accept them. They are 10, 11, and 12 years old. We were able to bring them one set of new cloths. The family all live in one room on the roof of a building. Another family with a physically disabled father needed some money toward a battery for his cart which we helped with so he could get to his doctor appointments and other places.
Home renovations must slow down a bit due to the winter months. Families must find lodging elsewhere when their homes are be renovated. We hope to renovate a home a month for the months ahead.
Winter show the peoples poverty very vividly, so we went home thinking of all the families we visited.



Friday, November 22, 2019

Visit November 2019



Visit November 18 and 19 2019
For two years we have tried to abstain for our Assistant General of the Daughters of Charity the two needed permits to visit Gaza with us. Last week shelling there had us praying that somehow it would be quiet enough to still go down this week. It happened and we had two lovely days there. We visited each day two of the nursery schools and several poor families. Two families had homes which were renovated recently and five homes were ones that need renovations before the winter rains if possible. 
In the schools the children were busy learning their numbers and letters. Healthy meals were being given in all four schools. The pictures can give you an idea of what was served. Ne school had repaired their outside playground toys. All had received their school supplies which were quickly put to good use. They all asked it the children would be getting winter coats as they received last year.
Some of the homes were really in bad shape especially two in the rural area near the Musaddar School and one in a refugee camp. They were really shacks made of pieces of wood, plastic sheeting (once used on the farms) and corrugated metal sheets. In the winter none of these families have no protection from the rain and wind. One is below the street level and the rains comes down the street and into their home.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Visit october 2019





Visit October 23 and 24 2019
Sr. Juliana, Sr. Maria and I went to down and crossed the boarders without any difficulty this time. Sabah met us with our cards for the Gaza side which facilitated things. We began with a visit to Fawsyeh School in the north near the border. Two classes of children were busy playing using a parachute. Others were studying their numbers and one class was outside eating their meal of rice, beans and meat. It looked delicious.
After we visited four very poor families. One home was just renewed and the family were so happy and proud to have a proper living space. The father had lost a leg at the border and due to living in a dirty area he contacted gangrene and had to have the leg amputated. Now again he needs a piece of the leg removed, but needed to wait the arrival of their fourth child before having surgery. In the pictures you can see the baby who is admired by all of us. She is only a few days old, a beautiful and alert baby.
Three other homes were studied as we hope to do the renovations for two other homes before winter. These two are in bad shape and the families are large with little space for everyone.
The last day we had to leave earlier, yet still we went to the bank and met in our office to discuss our various programs. The schools all need some supplies which they will get this month. Three of the schools need to have their outdoor playground toys repaired. We decided not to use merry-go-rounds as they break down as all the playgrounds are of sand. Other types of equipment is more practical like slides and swings.
On leaving many men were also leaving as now some can get the permit to work in Israel. It’s a wonderful event as unemployment is so high, many are hungry.



Sunday, October 27, 2019

Visit September 2019



Visit September 16 and 17 2019
Sr. Frantiska had her first visit to Gaza and all went well at the boarders. I didn’t realize that my permit to the Gaza side had expired the day before. This gave us a few anxious moments until they decided to let us enter. We were to renew my papers the next day which we did. Due to the help of Fr. Mario and Ramzi we were able to leave on Wednesday a day later than we had planned on. The Missionaries of Charity were kind to let us stay another night with them. 
The first day was full as we started by visiting the Al Arabie School in the north. The children were happy and busy studying theirs forms and reviewing the names of the colors. They all received apples that day. After we went immediately to visit our second pre-school in the Jabalia area of Gaza City. Again the children were busy; this time they had a puppet show which the teachers put on for them. They have more children enrolled this year in their school of three classrooms with a fourth room as a play room.
Fr. Mario and two of his friends joined us to visit four families two of which just had their homes renovated due to the generosity of our benefactors. It was great to see the joy on the faces of these families. In the afternoon we met with Sabah and discussed the current situation with our projects there. After we went to the Missionaries of Charity for the night.
The second day after Mass we went to the bank and after to the parish to work on our paper work for our permits with the government. We headed south to the Middle camps to see our two pre-schools there and were very pleased with everything. At Hanan’s School we saw the new room which she built on the top of the schools to be a play room for the children. We had sponsored the windows and the flooring. CRS had donated many nice toys for them. In both schools the children were eating nice martadella sandwitches. We returned to Gaza City to discuss again our projects for the future months. The Italian clown Mario had been to all our pre-schools and was entertaining the children of the parish that afternoon.
After Mass and breakfast we went to the parish offices to see how our paper work was and Fr. Mario came to our aid again and we were able to leave immediately for the frontier as he was sure that he could get the problems resolved there. He and his friends were also leaving so we went together across the boarders. About 100 people were ahead of us waiting to leave so it took us about 2 hours to be processed to leave. It was a great relief to be able travel that day and not have to wait still another day.



Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Visit August 2019




Lorenzo’s visit August 7th. 2019
Lorenzo arrived by himself and Sabah and he went first to the homes being renovated. The first one was in the beach camp and this home was finished. There are photos to allow one to see the situation before the renovations and the changes made by the renovations. Lorenzo was very pleased to see the work well done.
Next they visited two more homes. These two we have studied and they are I great need of renovations. This we hope to do and have done before winter.
Many families have no money for school uniforms for children September. We will give 100 elementary age children a complete uniform. Two will be chosen from the families who are most needy.
They visited one of our pre-schools in the middle Camps and we will help put in new windows and tiles in their new room.
They went next to the Gezoor Society where they were distributing vegetables to families.
The day ended with a visit to Fr. Mario before he left for the boarder.
Our four pre-schools will open in mid-September. Registration begin August 30.