Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in Gaza 2010

His Beatitude, Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem went to Gaza on Wednesday, December 22nd, to visit the small Catholic community and celebrate Christmas a few days in advance.
A full delegation from the Latin Patriarchate, crossed the walls surrounding the Gaza Strip, to meet with the Christian community and celebrate the Christmas Mass.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November visit on All Souls Day

(The French translation below) Two families griped our hearts. They are both in Gaza City and each has a unique story. A handsome boy of ten, I will name him, Ahmad, with a slow but nice smile met us on our arrival to their home. We have visited many homes and very poor ones. This one was no different as this family of eight lived on the third floor of a building needing basic repairs.

Ahmad was playing in a local center for children, a club, where they could play afternoon after school when a shell entered the building landing beside him, which caused a fire. He was burned in the stomach and thy. It is two years since this tragic event, Ahmad has received treatment for his burns yet need a specially treated garment to cover the burns to enable the skin to heal. This garment must come from Germany and will be applied to the damaged areas.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Visit to Gaza October 12 And 13, 2010

Fr. Thomas and I, Sister Susan, made good time arriving and entering. Sabah was there to meet us and we headed south to Magasse and Musaddar. It was great to see the children busy with their letter or numbers in these two village nursery schools. While there we saw each school serve the meal. Some schools have fewer children than last May and other have more. Hopefully you will have the pictures we took while visiting.

Some new events in the Strip are that the farmers are now able to export some products via the tunnels. Eggs and chickens are now cheaper in Gaza than in Egypt. Seven individuals were helped this month with surgeries or medications. Doctors will be examinating the children in our schools to see who needs glasses. They will be receiving free glasses as did the 46 children who received them last year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gaza: the parish of hope

by Andrea Bergamini
They are few, isolated because of the embargo and caught up in the society’s islamization carried forward by Hamas. But Catholic people are anyway a lively community, a sign of peace

We have heard it talked about many times because of its drama. But there could also be another point of view from which to look at Gaza: the one from the Holy Family Parish, the only Latin community in the Strip. An uneasy presence which is somehow the whole Middle East’s icon at the centre of the Synod which will be held in Rome this month. Andrea Bergamini, a religious of the Families of Visitation, reports.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Visit 21th of September 2010

Br. Joe, Br, Andres and sr. Susan went to Gaza for our first fall visit. It was a blistering hot day. Yet our welcome was a nice relief from the heat and cold drinks accompanied us as we visited three schools and one women's center. Sabah met us at the boarder as usual and we visited the Al Arabia School where the children were hard at work. Due to the end of Ramadan being in the middle of the month the schools began only last week. The children of this School had no uniforms as this area is very poor. So far 120 had registered and more were expected.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Visit 27 th. of July

Hot it was the 27 th. of July, Don, Lorenzo and I crossed the boarder bring in used clothing as usual and some hearing aid materials for a center in the north.
Sabah met us and we went directly to bring Sr. Clara home in the Beach Camp as she came from us from Jerusalem. Taking the beach road we went to Khan Yunis where we visited the Culture and Free Thought woman's center which gives out loans to women. Three of their members told about their program for women and answered our questions. They see giving grants as relief work and giving loans as development work. We went away enriched and challenged.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gaza visit July 6, 7, and 8

Brothers Andres and Lorenzo and I went down for three day arriving at the same time as Cardinal Mc Careick. We joined the men from the parish who welcomed him at the frontier, Sabah met us and we went to the parish where the Cardinal celebrated the ten o'clock Mass. Scouts with bagpipes playing welcome the him. His homily was great, as he encouraged the people in their faith despite the difficulties of life now.
This first day we visited Musaddar School seeing the added rooms on the second floor, which are great. Moh'd told us about the four micro finance programs which are going on there, which interested us greatly. We visited some poor families after and returned to the parish for the evening.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A very special visit, June 21

This was a very special visit as Sr. Vincent Allwan and Sr. Katharina came with Fr. Jean and me. We had a full day planned for them and Sabah kept us on schedule for everything. We began by visits to two poor families living in tents in the north. Two handicapped children were among them. Sr. Vincent was especially touched by the poor living conditions.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Visit June 8 th. 2010

(See below the report in French) Br. Joe and I went down together. We wondered how we would find things after the flotilla incident. The Strip was calm in the daytime, yet shelled each night by planes in the south and sometimes in the north.

We brought with us some materials for a center for the deaf and this gave us a good chance to visit this center in the Jabalia Camp. We were impressed by the activities for the disabled which were in process there.

Sabah had made an appointment for us to visit a Community Center in Nassara who have many projects founded by various international groups and we were especially interested in what they are doing in micro finance. Women who had profited from their program shared their stories with us. Not all were success stories, yet most had become completely financially independent.

We ended the day with a meeting among ourselves and our various volunteers who help us. We also planned our next visit where the Visitatrix (Provincial) of the Middle East Province and my Sisters Servant will be our guests.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Visit to Gaza April 28 and 29

Two had two great days weather wise and had the chance to go to visit one school the Amjad School. After we traveled south to Khan Yunis and saw the changes since the war in that area. We saw many street shops set up to sell the items that had come through the tunnels. On our way Sabah brought us up on the news. The government is taxing the people on many items now. cigarettes, medicines, and even one must pay two shekels to visit the sick in the hospitals. This is adding a very heavy burden to the families were 85% of the population in unemployed.

We visited the center for Culture and Free Thought where Sabah is on their board of direction. Fr. Don and Fr. Thomas couldn't stay overnight so they left that afternoon. I stayed on and with Sabah visited six very poor families that afternoon and the next day. One boy of 19 had been hit by shells last year in his abdomen, going in one side and coming out the other.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gaza visit April 16, 2010

Nicole a student at the PBI where Don lives, Don, Jean, and I made this trip. We brought some needed materials for a deaf center in the north with us. We visited the schools to see the meals offered and so we went to two that of Marazey and Musaddar. We had helped them get cutlery and plates. Some new tables had been given both schools by Islamic Relief.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Visit February 22 and 23

(See below the report in French) Four of us went to down and for Br. Peter Bray of Bethlehem University, it was his first visit. In the morning we visited two of our schools that of El Amjad and Zahar. We found the children studying in groups. In one school we announced that they must teach the children in two shifts due to lack of space. The same teachers teach both groups of children. This must be exhausting. Nice meals were being given to the children. Both schools had been newly painted. Other renovations were appreciated by our group. After we visited four kitchens where the women's centers had grants to start catering delicious meals. We were able to sample their delicacies and left feeling a kilo heavier and ready to take a nap. In the afternoon I filled out forms on the individuals who we had provided money for surgeries or transportation for those who needed surgeries in Gaza or abroad. An artificial leg was purchased for one man.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Trip to Gaza February 11th.

We were seven this time: Andres Bergamini, Lorenzo Ravasini, their friend Alexander, Fr. Don Moore, Br. Joe Loewenstein, and Fr. Thomas Bahmer and Sr. Susan Sheehan.

We joined Sabah at one of the women's centers where we had two meetings. The first was with representatives from our five schools. They had questions about what we had agreed to help them with such as renovations and materials needed for the children. They shared about their inability to pay their teachers as the children's parents cannot pay the monthly fees, nor the transportation. We will discuss this at our next meeting. They also said now that the food is so expensive that several of the schools cannot feed the children but three times a week. This is also to be studied; perhaps they need more money monthly for food. We broke for lunch and were served a delicious meal made there by three women who cook and bake as a catering service. We had ordered this meal and paid for it in order to sponsor this new initiative of the women.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Visit January 31, 2010

Lorenzo, Andres and I, Sr Susan, accompanied two friends of the Western Lieutenancy of the Knight of the Holy Sepulcher, Chuck and Eleanor Radloff who have wanted to go to Gaza. This was the only day possible for them to visit. Before Mass we were able to visit the areas heavily shelled, mainly the industrialized area. We could see where some factories remained must as they were after the war and others that were being rebuilt. Men and boys with donkey carts were busy clearing and hauling away debris from the ruins. Others were straightening the tangled iron rein reinforment rods, working in twos. We are told that they are paid 15 shekels or $3.30 a day to do these jobs. We wondered how families manage to eat daily with such limited income.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Visit to Gaza January 11th. and 12th, 2010

Fr. Jean and I, Sr. Susan went to Gaza having no problems at the boarder crossing. A meeting was canceled so we were able to visit some Greek Orthodox spots in the morning. In the afternoon we had a meeting with three of our five schools to find out what had been purchased for them so far and what needed to be bought. Following we had a second meeting with the heads of the three centers who run our food program.