During this difficult time we have compiled some of the resources and prayers from our Brothers and Sisters in the Holy Land. Please keep them in your prayers at this challenging time.
Letter from Archbishop Suheil Dawani- Archbishop of the Episcopal diocese in Jerusalem
Letter from Father Jamil Khader- Chair of our Holy Land committee
My beloved sons of the people based on the decision of the council of presidents of churches in Jerusalem and in line with the decisions of the Palestinian authority regarding the fight against the corona virus... there will be no mass for tomorrow Sunday until further notice with your encouragement to pray in the houses and accompany me by praying Same time.. we hope the epidemic cloud passes peacefully and safely to all.
Letter from Father Abusada- Director of the School of Joy
Bethlehem & School of joy needs your prayers.
Help us help others as Bethlehem goes into a Coronavirus lockdown
Of all the cities and towns in the West Bank, Bethlehem is the most dependent on tourism. The small city has capacity for five thousand people to stay in hotels and guest houses and often it is hard to find a room as pilgrims’ visit to the birthplace of Jesus. Shops, businesses, farmers, crafts people, guides, taxi-drivers, cafes and restaurants are dependent on the people who come to Bethlehem.
From Thursday 5th of March hotels have been shut, mosques and churches have been told to close their doors for a fortnight, schools and universities have been closed and there is a strange silence on the street.On Friday morning we heard that a state of emergency had been declared and now it looks the West Bank will be closed for thirty days. Checkpoints are closed and movement between cities has been banned. There are twenty-five cases of Coronavirus already confirmed in the city and many people are in home quarantine after being in contact with those who have tested positive. It appears that the virus is out of control and we expect the number of confirmed cases to rise rapidly.
Our offices are closed, only government offices continue to function.At School of joy for slow learners we have a long tradition of looking out for our students, and their broken families, and widows, most of our children have no parents, some are orphans, some have divorce cases, some have separation cases, we know many people are going to be hard hit. Even those who are not affected by the virus will be affected by the impact on the economy of the shut-down. Many people will not be paid while the city is closed to tourists. We are dependent on groups and visits to fund the vast majority of our work. March was going to be a very busy month as we would normally welcome pilgrims from around the world before Easter in lent for the way of the cross. The visitors have already cancelled and no pilgrims can visit us. It is a worrying time for us and we are concerned for all who live in this city – especially those who live with the constant threat of poverty.
We would love to be able to buy food and other essentials for those poor families we know who may not be able to afford the basics they need. We would love to keep our missionary service that benefit local people running. we need funds to keep the school running in this difficult time, to pay salaries for the teachers in order to feed their families.
We would also value your prayers. Some of us are personally affected as our friends have tested positive for the virus. We are worried about our special needs students as they have no immunity, and their poor relatives, also the older people in our community and those with underlying health issues for whom the virus could be fatal. We need strength to keep going and wisdom to know how to support our community as much as we can.
Your prayers and support is appreciated to help people living in Bethlehem at this unusual and difficult time, please make a donation, however small by Friends of The Holy land. Remember us in your prayers and keep us in our thoughts as once again we find ourselves in the epicenter of a global crisis.Thank you for your solidarity and support in advance.
From School of Joy for slow learners with love .
United in Prayers.
Fraternally yours in Christ
Fr. Mamdouh AbuSada
Thoughts from the Latin Patriarchate
For more photos take a look at our Flikr.
Jimmy Michael has produced a number of videos about the situation in Bethlehem at the moment. Please watch them for a first hand account: