Report from Palestine: Update
"Ahmed" the puppet and I have enjoyed our last week here in Israel-Palestine. We have traveled from city to city, from hospital to hospital, sharing joy, love, and gifts with children who live with disabilities.
We stopped in the beautiful city of Beit Jala in Bethlehem, West Bank, where we visited Bethlehem Arab Society Rehabilitation Hospital (BASR). Outside the front door is a sign that reads: "Every patient is first and foremost a human being!"
This is truly a place where no one is turned away or discriminated against for any reason. Founded in 1960 by Edmund Shehadeh, BASR is nationally recognized for its comprehensive, holistic medical and rehabilitation treatment. It works to enhance overall quality of life through innovative programs that meet the ever-emerging needs of Palestinians from all over the region. With over 300 staff and thousands coming in and out of their doors monthly, their goal is to see every patient succeed emotionally as well as physically.
Ahmed told the children stories as the staff and we handed out blankets to every child in need. Their faces brightened as clowns danced and performed acrobatics and as the annual Christmas program was presented.
Our final stop on this trip was to St. Vincent's Home for Children with Special Needs, in West Jerusalem, Israel, in the lovely town of Ain Karem. The home of St. John the Baptist, Ain Karem is a magical place with rolling hills and ancient buildings.
Sister Susan and Sister Pascal, members of the Daughters of Charity, have served the severely disabled there for half a century. With about 60 patients, St. Vincent's houses 60 Jewish and Arab children with the most severe disabilities, including those involving sight, hearing, respiratory, and mobility. One of the greatest challenges the home faces is obtaining adequate wheel chairs as the children grow from year to year.
The staff consists of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian laypeople, doctors, and caregivers who pour themselves into bathing, feeding, entertaining, and providing medical care to these children, 24-7. Volunteers from around the world generously help out as well. Ahmed and I were honored to spend a little time with each child, from toddlers to young adults, touching their hands gently or kissing their foreheads in a blessing of love.
It has been a wonderful time here in the Holy Land, as we celebrate Christmas in the place where Jesus was born. Thank you for your prayers as we traveled. Please remember these children in your prayers going forward. All they want for Christmas is peace!