Friday, October 30, 2009

Our visit October 26 and 27

Crossing the boarder went well. A new health check was added at the Gaza side. Only our temperature was taken.

We were able to visit three schools and one women's center through these two days. Fawyseh was our driver as we started at her school where Sabah met us. At each school the children were busy learning to write their alphabet or numbers. Some were outside in the playground or having their lunch which we helped to provide.

With the directress of each school we announced the items that we had decided to provide for them for their schools. We asked them to get estimates of the prices and Sabah would with them what was best. Two need refrigerators and buying two at one time may be cheaper. The directress of the Zahar School was at the women's center, so we were able to discuss with her the same items to be purchased as we did with the other three schools.

At the Women's Center we were happy to meet the Directress and her team who run the various activities. Suha and Wissal the two social workers who have been doing home visits and have files on each family who need food; we met for the first time. We were very impressed by their work. They shared some of their stories. Many services to the area are provided at this center. It is one of the three Centers who distribute food for us. The women witnessed to a real sense of respect and collaboration among themselves.

As usual Fr. Thomas finish our first day with Mass said at the Missionaries of Charity. I spent the night with the Sisters and he at Fr, Jorge's house. Fr. Elias is at home as his brother is very ill. Despite very hot days we returned home being grateful to all whom welcomed us, shared their realities and vision of the future with us. Regretfully their situation seems to be worse at the moment due to political realities.

The pictures are of the children at the Missionaries of Charity School and of the women responsible for programs at the woman's Center.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Day of Recollection to write our Mission Statement

Four of our team met for most of a day to reflect and to create our Mission Statement. Ideas were presented from other organizations serving the poor. In silent prayer each sought to formulate ours. Just before noon we shared a liturgy and after had a meal together. A brief meeting followed. Fr. Jean took note and will share with us in order to add to or make corrections, so that all will agree to our final draft of our Mission Statement.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gaza: Mass and blessing of the parish's new installations

On Sunday, October 18, Father Humam Khzouz, the General Administrator for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, paid a visit to the Latin Parish in Gaza, accompanied by Mother Ines Al-Yaqoub, the General Superior of the Rosary Sisters and by Br. Andrea Bergamini. The parishioners, gathered together for the Eucharistic Benediction, warmly welcomed the small delegation. Fr. Human was the celebrant at the mass.

In his homily he made use of the readings of the mass to encourage the Christians to offer service, to be ready to perform reciprocal acts of charity, to sustain each other’s hopes even, and above all, in the dark and difficult moments that, for too long a time now, have been characteristic of the life of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. [...]


After the mass, there was the blessing of the rooms under the rectory, and the large hall under the nursery school, which have been recently restored, thanks to the contributions of a few Italian parishes. These rooms will serve for catechism classes and youth get-togethers. In fact, the Pastor, Jorge Hernandez, has been dedicating particular attention to the Christian youth of Gaza. Every week he invites them to the parish in order to play, meet to discuss or pray together: between 70-90 young people of various ages – a number that grows to even 120 when you talk about the great appreciated field trips away from the parish – enliven and render joyful these parish meeting rooms. There is still much to do, and every help is grateful appreciated, but still, from among the parishioners, you can sense the enthusiasm and happiness.


For a few weeks now, Fr. Elias, who is also of the community of the Incarnate Word, has been living in the parish, and is from the same country and ordination class as Fr. Jorge. He deals with people with gentleness and goodness, supports the Pastor, and spends a great deal of energy studying Arabic.

Fr. Humam Khzouz was able to meet the teachers at the patriarchate school, talk over the most important and urgent matters with Fr. Jorge, and visit the school of the Rosary Sisters, which was significantly damaged during the Junuary 2009 war. With warm cordiality and a true spirit of hospitality, the sisters, together with their Mother General, invited the priests and sisters of Mother Theresa to lunch at their house.

The video (Youtube)

The photo gallery (picasa album)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Visit to Gaza on September 29th and 30th.

It was the feast of the Guardian Angels and as Fr. Thomas and I waited with others an hour and a half to enter the boarder crossing we asked our Angels to storm heaven for us. I was the one to be delayed entrance for a time. So our day had a slow start yet right away we went to one of our schools in the north and the children were working on their letters and numbers. The classes were crowded, as many preschools had been destroyed in the last war.

Sabah told us that due to larger classes we must give more money monthly to the larger schools, so that the children can be fed daily rather than two or three times a week. We hope that we can do this.

We noticed how there was many cars on the streets again and were told that the gasoline is now only $2 a liter and solar $1 a liter, so the people are buying cars to be like taxis for others to earn money. Still there are many donkeys and carts on the roads. We asked it most items needed, can be found in stores now? Sabah said yes, but at a high price.

For example fruit is very expensive. We asked the three schools who we visited or directresses whom we met what are their urgent needs and their long term needs listing all. Most seemed necessary such as school supplies, repairs on their water filters and one asked for a refrigerator, so they don't have to shop daily for fresh foods.

That evening we returned to the parish were we met the new priest who will live with Fr. Jorge. He is young and is called Fr. Elias. He hasn't learned Arabic yet, yet everyone is thrilled to have him among them. Fr. Thomas spent the evening with the priests and I it with the Missionaries of Charity. Grada and Rita came for the table games which we had purchased for their children and were delighted with the games for all ages of children.

Four to five people are still killed in the tunnels daily due to some collapsing or due to the shelling of the tunnels.

Wednesday we visited the Amjad School in Marazi and found out that the owner will be using two of their classrooms. They did find other rooms which replaced these two rooms. Thursday we had the startling news that the directress and her assistant may be leaving the school, as one is ill and one has another job. Sabah will be inquiring if we should still help this
pre-school in the future as she visits their board.

We ended with a visit to the bank with Sabah. On leaving, this time it was Fr. Thomas's turn to be delayed at the boarder, but for a short time.