Local pilgrims support children of Bethlehem
In April this year, I led a pilgrimage group to the Holy Land. While this was my fifth pilgrimage there, it was a first time experience for many of our Catholic Education principals and staff. They were joined by some members of my South Woden Parish. As traumatic hostilities unfold in Israel and Gaza, I thought this story might evoke some prayerful and practical support for children in need in Palestine.
Our pilgrim group had the good fortune to visit Bethlehem Holy Child Programme, a small school that offered educational and mental health support to children who are victims of the ongoing tensions in the West Bank. On return to Australia, with the support of our whole group, one of our pilgrims, Pierre Rey, compiled a book of our memories. This substantial book was then published and offered for sale to our pilgrims. All monies raised were then sent to the Bethlehem Holy Child Programme. Visit https://holychildbethlehem.org
Yesterday I transferred $11341.00 to the Holy Child Program or US$6940 on behalf of our group. I wrote:
“The work your school is doing with the children greatly inspired us and, at the end of the trip, we decided that we wanted to support your efforts by raising funds to donate to the school.
All 37 members of our group contributed to the fund and by the end of September, we raised $A11200 or just under US$7000. I believe that, according to your website, it should help to cover the cost for the education of one child for a year.
Given the events happening in Israel and Palestine at the moment, we are keeping you, the children and their families in our prayers, praying for your safety, and we wish you every blessing and success in your work with the school.”
Pierre received the following letter from the Holy Child Programme Board Secretary:
“Dear Mr. Rey,
We are so grateful and humbled by the love, financial support and concern of your 37 Harvest tour members. I am Secretary of the Board of Bethlehem Holy Child Program and speak for the Board and school. THANK YOU!
Especially now, your funds are a work of mercy. We anticipate some challenges as tours are one source of funding. Obviously tours will be suspended for an unknown period.
Via PayPal funds are deposited in a US bank account so they have been received and are secure. To pay salaries, tuition, rent, and student fees, funds are transferred to the local account as needed.
With caution, I will try to respond to your concern about the safety of the HCP family. As of my information about 24 hours ago, Beit Sahour is relatively quiet. Schools are advised to close and all checkpoints and border crossings are closed. All Board members reside in the US but it happens that our president, Diane, and her husband are there working at HCP in their professional capacities. They are now trying to return home. Like the HCP family, they are residing in the Palestinian area.
Thank you for your prayers for the safety of all and for a just peace.
Again, we are so grateful for your sponsorship of a student.
It cannot be overstated how affirming and encouraging it is for the teachers and families to know that people like yourselves care about them. It is truly sustaining.
May God bless you all and know that you are in our continued prayers.”