Fund provides lifeline for Palestinian Christians

 The humanitarian fund of the Latin Patriarchate was established from Rome by the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre last year. We are very grateful for this very generous fund. Parishes received funds to help needy families especially during Christmas and Easter. The fund was shared with the Pontifical Mission to help people restore their damaged houses and help families with food and medicine. The humanitarian fund could have not come at a better time with the suffering and distress families are experiencing in the Holy Land. Fr William Shomali said: "the humanitarian fund shows a big concern about our brothers and sisters and it is a solidarity fundit is important to know it was given quicklyit is providential." All Latin parishes in the Holy Land helped people in need through the humanitarian fund. In Jifna, Fr Rick Water was able to help 75 families with school fees as well as food and medicines. He said: "We appreciate our brothers and sisters abroad who are aware of our needs and we ask our Lord to bless them and re-compensate them for all they have done." In the Zababdeh community where approximately 500 Christian families live, Fr Aktham used the fund in three different ways. He created temporary jobs for unemployed people especially fathers that have many children as dependents. He managed different groups of five workers at a time that lasted ten to fifteen days while changing the groups three or four times to allow the maximum opportunity for as many men to work as possible cleaning the cemetery for the community and building walls and a gate. Another way Fr Aktham used the fund was to help seven university students attending local institutions who were not able to pay for their own tuition. The third way the fund was used to help extremely poor families in Zababdeh from the Latin, Anglican and Orthodox churches. Some families purchased items they needed at the supermarket while the church paid the bill. Other families were given cash directly to help pay rent, electricity, water and other utility bills. Fr Aktham reports that among the three churches at least fifty families are in deep need of help especially since the head of household lost their jobs as workers with Israeli companies. Fr Aktham said: "It is not enough to give them food each month, we have to find a way to help them have a steady income." As the economy continues to decline in the Holy Land and as the general siege and closure on Palestinian towns and villages prevent people from moving around, every parish priest continues to make the list of poor families longer and longer. In the Taybeh Community the list that included fifteen needy families prior to September 28, 2000 has now climbed up to about one hundred and fifty families at three different categories of need. The Church in the Holy Land now faces a new challenge not to just give people fish to eat but to teach them to go fishing themselves.

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