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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
OliveAid initiative gives hope in the Holy Land
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First tree planting
OliveAid, the charity that is helping Palestinian families rebuild their lives, today announced that it has successfully planted more than  1,225 trees in and around Bethlehem in the West Bank,

The charity,  is providing a lifeline to the innocent Catholic Palestine families caught-up in the conflict of the region. The Olive trees help provide an income and a chance for Palestinian families to rebuild their lives through the sale of Olive based products.

During the Israeli occupation over half a million olive trees were destroyed to clear land for the enforced expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and to build the security wall. As the Olive trees were systematically destroyed so was the livelihood of hundreds of Palestinian farmers. As a direct consequence numerous families are now dependant on
international aid for the basic necessities of life. OliveAid is replanting the Olive groves of the West Bank providing employment and income to the inhabitant but most importantly providing hope for the future.

As international governments and world leaders debate a solution to the issue of an independent Palestinian state, it easy to forget that two thirds of Palestinian men, women and children are experiencing the effects of grinding poverty.  OliveAid, the international charity, was formed in 2008 by three Catholic's, Roy Putt, Robert Benson and Stephen Ballard, to provide a way for families to rebuild their lives, not on "handouts" from international aid agencies, but by replanting the Olive trees that once accounted for 80% of the regions income. The charity has successfully negotiated twenty planting sites in the West Bank where families are being given sufficient Olive trees to sustain one family. Funds are provided to fence, irrigate and generally prepare the land including the provision of fertilizer. Families are given locally sourced and certificated four year old saplings to plant and maintain which will produce their first commercial crop in three years. A local management infrastructure provided by The Institute for Community Partnership working in partnership with local farmers and the community and monitors both the planting and the ongoing husbandry of the trees. Many of the Olive trees destroyed were hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years old and so OliveAid sees its work as a long term investment in the region.

"The response we have had from the UK Catholic community particularly in the Southwark diocese has been fantastic and has enabled us to plant over 1,225 last season. We are now negotiating for additional saplings thanks to the generosity of OliveAid supporters and we need to attract additional funds quickly. We are already negotiating for a further three sites in non conflict areas which will give us the capacity to plant up to 5000 this season," said OliveAid Trustee Stephen Ballard.

OliveAid is a project set up in association with the UK Registered Charity "Friends Of Bethlehem University" (FOBU), to consider ways to support economic growth, job creation, and education in the Palestine. BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY was established in 1973. It was the first University in the West Bank, and remains the only Catholic Christian University in the Holy Land. Starting with 112 students, it now has almost 3,000 students enrolled, 71% of whom are female and 29% are male. A true inter-faith establishment, 69% of students are Muslim and 31% are Christian.

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Tags: Bethlehem University, OliveAid, West Bank

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