HOLY LAND - Thanks to the generous donations made by the German Lieutenancy, various projects were implemented and launched during the years 2019 - 2021. These projects fall within the frameworks of pastoral, education, infrastructure support, and humanitarian aid.
Between 2019 and 2020, various pastoral projects were implemented in the different parishes of the Holy Land, one of which was the pastoral support for “The Youth of Jesus’ Homeland Palestine”, which is the group that unites all 58 active Christian children and youth groups of all parishes in Palestine. This included training courses, workshops and spiritual retreats for the youth; organize the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King for hundreds of children and young men and women from the different parishes; organize the International post-synod Youth Forum in Rome, as well as attending the JECI and MIEC Middle East Coordination Conference in Lebanon, in 2019.
The General Secretariat of YJHP also held a festival entitled “Story of Ibn-El Balad”, which highlighted the activities, programs and initiatives of the Palestinian Christian Youth Ministry through a Bible exhibition and a number of performances and activities over the course of four days.
In addition, the donations of the German Lieutenancy contributed to the financing of the Emmaus Center for the year 2019 and 2020. The Emmaus Center aims to strengthen the faith of Christian adults aged 18-60 in the different parishes of Palestine, including Ramallah, Beit Sahour, Beit Jala and Bethlehem, to provide all adult parishioners with the opportunity for meditation, fellowship, education and spiritual growth, through a two-year program that concludes with a graduation ceremony.
The pastoral support also benefited the St. James Vicariate for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics which has been committed to the service of the Catholic Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Israel, particularly the children of Migrants and the Hebrew-speaking youth. The Vicariate was in dire need of liturgical and biblical books in Hebrew that needed to be used for teaching and studying including the translation of spiritual Christian literature into Hebrew.
Also within the framework of pastoral projects, and since 2019, the German Lieutenancy - together with other Lieutenancies - has been contributing to the support of the pastoral works for lectors, acolytes and clergy persons from the Holy Land, by enabling them to meet for spiritual retreats once a month in different places, and enjoy pilgrimages to the various religious sites and holy places across the diocese.
In the framework of infrastructure and rehabilitation projects, and thanks to the contributions of several donors, the Latin Patriarchate was able to complete construction works for the Jubeiha Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Jordan in 2021, after more than nine years due to a shortage of funds and the expansion of the project. The need to build a large church emerged after the increase in the number of parishioners, especially following the parish school’s construction and expansion, and the desire of people to live in a quieter and more affordable area.
Today, the Church can accommodate approximately 1,000 faithful and is equipped with a large parish hall where the parishioners are able to celebrate liturgical events. Before the construction of the Church, they used to attend Masses in the hall of the school.
On the other hand, some projects are still under implementation, and these include the rehabilitation of Ader school in Jordan, which serves students from Kindergarten 1 to fourth grade in the marginalized village of Ader, in an attempt to prevent internal migration to the capital. These works include rehabilitation of the humid and deteriorating basement, and the foundations of the school which require serious enforcement work.
Renovation works will also be conducted at the school, parish and church of Smakieh in Jordan, another marginalized area that had not seen any rehabilitation works for decades. In an attempt to improve the deteriorated church building and the priest house, renovation works will include changing, painting or fixing the old windows,
In the Latin Patriarchate Vicariate of Amman, a green energy solar panel system was installed to offset the grid power whenever the sun is shining, and send excess power to the grid as credit for later use.
Whereas in the Palestinian village of Taybeh, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem felt the urge to improve the safety and security at the Beit Afram Home for the elderly, which lacks basic safety requirements thus a need to upgrade the security requirements for the safety of the residents and workers. The donations of the German Lieutenancy will enable, among other things, the provision of fire safety and proper evacuation plans, and a proper nurse call system.
Under the framework of education, and with the generous donations of the German Lieutenancy, the Latin Patriarchate was able to provide smartboards for several Latin Patriarchate schools in Palestine and Jordan, especially following the shift to online learning education after the spread of Covid-19.
The stern belief in the importance of empowering women in East Jerusalem, especially in the Old City, has been driving the Latin Patriarchate, as well as other Christian organizations since 2020, to provide various training activities and manuals aiming at training the women in life and vocational skills, as well as skills needed to start their own business. This will empower these families to gradually move to self-reliance and away from the chronic charity mode they find themselves in and allow them to live a dignified life. This project is expected to benefit about 40 women annually.
Projects funded by the German Lieutenancy and other Lieutenancies
The German Lieutenancy – among other 43 Lieutenancies – had also contributed to the humanitarian and emergency relief aid fund following the Covid-19 appeal launched by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, since the pandemic had left many families without any income and unable to pay for basic needs. The benefactors’ contribution included medical aid, social support providing personal protective equipment, hygiene kits, tuition fees and food coupons, in addition to aiding the refugees in Jordan. It is important to highlight that the donation from the German Lieutenancy was the largest contribution to the Covid-19 fund.
The funds were divided into two components with 75% dedicated to support needy students with their tuition fees, and the remaining 25% to provide support to needy families through the various parishes with basic humanitarian assistance including food coupons, hygiene supplies, essential baby needs, medicines, and utility support. The total number of beneficiaries exceeded 20,000 people who have received different kinds of aid in both Palestine and Jordan.
In 2020 and following the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Holy Land, which had created a new social and economic reality, the benefactors’ generous donations provided humanitarian aid which included medical aid, by assisting marginalized poor individuals suffering from chronic diseases who do not have any medical insurance; medicine support, targeting mostly the elderly who have no insurance coverage, many of whom have been abandoned by their families due to immigration or the high cost of living; schools and university support, by paying part of their university or school tuition fees; and family support by providing support in the different aspects of life, such as covering rents, overdue bills, utility bills like electricity and water, property-taxes, and emergency financial aids for families in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The generous donations had also contributed to funding the East Jerusalem Aid Support Program, which targets – in coordination with the Society of St. Yves and Caritas Jerusalem – Christian families living in East Jerusalem who are caught in the policies of the city and the Israeli discriminatory policies, saving them from eviction or imprisonment through legal aid and financial support. In addition to supporting the Iraqi Christian Refugee Humanitarian Aid Program, which has been aiding the Iraqi Christians since their arrival to Jordan in 2014, by paying their accommodations, utilities, medical expenses and transportation costs. The most essential fields of support for the refugees include educational support through school, transportation, book and uniform fees; and humanitarian support such as cash money, food, clothes, shelter, water, medicine, transportation and hospital fees. The Latin Patriarchate was also able to support the refugees by creating job opportunities for 33 refugees, impacting a total of 132 beneficiaries.
During the year 2020, and thanks to the generous donations made by the German Lieutenancy and various other Lieutenancies, 148 beneficiaries were assisted in the Family Support Program impacting 592 persons; 135 beneficiaries were supported through medical support; more than 253 were helped with school and local universities scholarships; and more than 148 people were reached through the medicine program, especially the elderly who have chronic diseases. In addition, aid was granted to continue the East Jerusalem Fund assisting 43 families and impacting around 172 people. Support of the Iraqi Refugees in Jordan continued during the year where approximately 986 persons were supported.
In the Gaza Strip, the Latin Patriarchate continues to provide assistance to the Christian youth through the job creation and capacity-building program. These young people endure exceptional economic and political circumstances, and discrimination on basis of religion which makes them fail to find employment opportunities in the local market, and consequently unable to provide for their children and families.
In 2018, the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip reached 52%; 75% among women, 44% among men and 69% among the youth, with job opportunities to Christian youth being next to impossible. Since 2018 until today, the Latin Patriarchate, through the contributions of different Lieutenancies, has been able to provide employment opportunities to a total of 63 Christian youth.
In 2020 and with the generous donations received from various benefactors, 31 Christian youth were offered dignified income and an excellent opportunity to upgrade their capacities, impacting around 124 persons. This opportunity has helped the youth gain work experiences and life skills, through life skills training and general capacity-building workshops.
Finally, it is important to highlight that the German Lieutenancy is the largest contributor to the Humanitarian Fund and has historically pioneered starting such funds many years ago, benefitting thousands of families in the Holy Land.