Most people picture young adults relaxing on their summer vacations and days off. But the youth volunteers who are part of Caritas Jerusalem - more than 80 of them from nine different cities and villages from the West Bank - spent their holidays doing
practical work to bring hope to the people of Jericho.
The volunteer’s days were filled with activity, starting with a 6am wake up and not leaving the worksite until 5pm. Working in four groups they sanded and painted homes, a local church and cleaned different areas in the community.
The aim of the program is to help volunteers learn about the work of Caritas and become more involved in helping the needy in their communities. It is also a way to encourage young people to follow the Bible by helping others.
The groups were given the Terra Santa (Good Shepherd) School to stay in for those three days. They sanded the walls and painted both the walls and ceilings blue.
They also worked on three family homes badly in need of renovation. The families are poor, unemployed and unable to better their living conditions. The cracked walls and ceilings had large black spots caused by mould.
Bishara Shamali who is studying to be an architect, said: “These houses do not need to be fixed but rebuilt again. I really feel sorry for the way these people have had to live. Seeing these living conditions has helped me to become humble.”
In addition to sanding and painting these homes the youth also cleaned the floors and returned what little furniture there was to its original place.
They also cleaned the only Christian cemetery in the area from weeds and rubbish.
Although this trip was based on helping others it also was educational. The group made new friends and learned much. The group toured the city centre, learned about the area and talked with locals. They visited the historical sites and monuments dating back to Biblical times, such as Wadi Qilt, a valley many Biblical prophets walked through. They went to the Greek Orthodox monastery of St George, built, carved into the mountainside, in the late 5th century AD by John of Thebes.
For many young people it was the first time they were able to visit these historical places because of the traveling restrictions imposed by the Israeli government on Palestinians.Source: Caritas Jerusalem