TAYBEH, Palestine – During the Coronavirus lockdown and the mobility restrictions that ensued in the last three months in Palestine, a group of Taybeh natives defied the stagnant atmosphere that ruled their village and decided to give back to their community, notably the elderly.
The initiative was started by Marwan Odeh, a Taybeh native and assistant cook at the Beit Afram Elderly Home. Driven by his want to improve the quality life of the senior residents at his workplace, Marwan, with a few of his friends, helped raise money to implement two projects benefiting the elderly house; laying a concrete slab at the back entrance of the building and the planting of 34 fruit trees in the gardens of the property. The two projects were implemented in a time when normal daily activities were halted, as a result of the lockdown related to the Coronavirus outbreak.
“My first priority is the care and well-being of the elderly at the house,” said Marwan Odeh, who with the help of his friends in Taybeh, Jerusalem and Ukraine, helped raise 15,000 shekels ($4,344) for the realization of the projects. He continued “with the help of God, I am ready to do everything I am capable of for the welfare of the senior residents”.
For the first project, the laying of the concrete slab helped create more space at the back entrance of the Home. Over the years, olive mill pomace used to be stored in an area adjacent to the house, which used to exude an unpleasant smell especially in the summertime, an issue that forced the residents to stay inside all the time with closed windows and doors. Now, part of the concrete slab is used as the new storage space for the pomace, leaving the previous area empty for the residents to use.
The elderly home also saw the planting of 34 fruit trees in an area of about 500 square metres of its land. The idea started when a relative of Marwan expressed his wish to donate some money to the home, in memory of his deceased father and sister. “Instead of spending the money at a one-time thing like a party or a daytrip,” said Marwan, “I suggested to him to do something that could become an investment for many years to come. This is where the idea of planting the trees came from”.
The cost of the two projects amounted to 15,000 shekels, a sum which was paid for by the donations received and thus incurring no cost for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which maintains and administers the place.
The Beit Afram Elderly Home was established in 2005 by the Latin Patriarchate. Its mission is to offer a healthy environment for the elderly through its assistance of health care. Administered by the Patriarchate, the Home is overseen by the Community Filhos de Maria since 2011. In mid-August 2020, the Home will be handed over to the Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà, female branch of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word.