GAZA – Summer vacations are considered to be the time that students spend to relax and decompress without any study pressure. But it can also be a time of personal growth and development if used wisely. Many families around the world choose different destinations to spend the hot summer days in; going to the beach, visiting extended families, or spending time reading under the rays of the sun. Yet, summer camps in the Gaza Strip are crucial social programs for children to live their normal childhood despite constant tensions and life adversities.
This June, and despite the shortage of water, electricity, and the basic needs of life, children in the Gaza Strip were able to participate in the annual Summer Camp, which was organized by the Holy Family Parish and took place in its compound.
Being the only fun getaway for children, summer camps are a big part of their vacation. This year, more than 100 children participated in the summer camp, which was supervised by Fr. Mario da Silva, the Missionaries of Charity and the Rosary Sisters and young leaders.
The program included daily Holy Masses, after which participants attended different classes, varying from embroidery, art workshops, dance lessons, circus classes to handcraft works, catechism lessons, games and trips
Moreover, children in Gaza participated in the life of the church and stayed connected to it in different ways. One of them is having an active Scouts group. During the summer, they prepare their own summer camps, through which they live the scouts spirit by helping the church, doing charity work, and playing musical instruments such as drums, flutes, and Scottish bagpipes.
On the other hand, scout leaders attend workshops to learn more about the scouts spirit and leadership and plan their activities in a way that is inclusive to everyone, regardless of sex, religion or social background.
As family is an important part of the mission of the Church, the parish in Gaza works diligently to organize monthly meetings around this subject. During the last summer camp, it organized a feast that gathered christian families at the compound of the parish. Furthermore, and for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, the families took part of a trip to the beach to forget all the tensions of their daily life.
For the Legio Mariae members, and the young ladies group, they held many meetings, retreats, confessions and activities during the summer. Also, due to the conservative nature in Gaza, men had their own group. Their activities did not differ from the other groups and they focused on living the faith in the family.
The summer activities were made possible thanks to the different donors; Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, CRS, Open doors, Youth Weak-Up, Pontifical Mission Palestine, the Holy Bible Society and Brother Keepers.