THANK YOU for your generosity
THANK YOU to all of our supporters for their generosity which has meant we can declare that we have met our match funded goal for Pentecost Challenge in good time. Thank you for your help in spreading awareness of our campaign widely to generate the many new supporters who contributed to this amazing fundraising effort since April 3rd, particularly as we had already raised £48,000 in the preceding month for our Bethlehem Lockdown Appeal – monies which are already in Bethlehem being distributed by our team supporting the most vulnerable now!
We do not yet have the final figure for the amount actually raised as we are still processing our post, however we know we have reached the match funded target which means you have raised more than £200,000 to continue our work and support those of our Brothers and Sisters in the most need. We are in communication with several Christian partners and communities in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan and expect to get these monies to the coal face swiftly to provide relief over the months ahead. Be assured, this swift and most generous response will have an immediate impact in the lives of Christians throughout the Holy Land. As the medical crisis eases, however, there remains great uncertainty as to how long it will take to see any significant improvement in the employment prospects of our Brothers and Sisters. We know tourism is effectively dead at the moment. As the typical pilgrim is in the older more vulnerable category and travel logistics are yet to recover around the world, many pilgrimage sector specialists fear that volumes will not return to anywhere near the 2019 level until Autumn 2021 at the earliest.
This will leave many Christians with great uncertainty for the employment prospects and financial survival for many months. Hence, our response is just begun for this issue in addition to the projects where we already provide key support. We need your support to continue to pray in your local community as our churches re-open, to raise awareness of our mission as widely as possible and to encourage your network of Christian friends to visit the Holy Land in pilgrimage as soon as possible and so fuel the recovery of the tourism industry on which so many depend.
Please follow our messages on our website and social media pages which we update weekly with the progress and benefits you have facilitated through this amazing and most generous fundraising effort. Thank You.
Match Funded to Double your Donation
Why we have widened our Appeal - Donate now
The coronavirus is tightening its grip as it spreads throughout the Holy Land so we have taken the decision to widen the scope of our appeal to all of the West Bank (including Bethlehem), Gaza, Israel and Jordan. Therefore, we have re-launched our Bethlehem Coronavirus Shutdown Appeal as the “Pentecost Challenge” thus enabling Friends of the Holy Land to continue its activities and support those most affected by this crisis in the entire area of our operation..
At the same time we hope to inspire all of you to help us meet a target of £100,000 in new donations by the example of three generous supporters who have committed to match any donations to our appeal received from April 3 2020 until Pentecost, 31 May 2020 up to £100,000. Your donations will be doubled, whilst match funds last, to support those most affected by this pandemic in the Holy Land. The total funds donated through your generosity as of April 2nd stand at £48,000.
Therefore our overall target for fundraising for the widened Pentecost Challenge is £148,000 to be achieved with your help by 31st May. All of the additional target figure - £100,000 – is match funded.
Every £1 you donate will have the impact of £2!
The impact on the economy in the Holy Land is expected to be disastrous.
• Tourism is a key industry for Bethlehem, Jerusalem, other holy sites in Israel and Jordan, especially in the lead up to Easter, one of the key tourism seasons for the city. Indications are that from a record year of 4.5 million visitors in 2019 tourism will be wiped out in 2020 along with the income to the millions dependent on the sector, over 50% of whom are employed on a casual basis.
• Close to 200,000 migrant workers with or without permits rely on incomes from Israel or the settlements and they each support a family of five, that's almost one million Palestinian individuals having their bread and butter on their table from the income generated from Israel. With the closure of the crossing points, these incomes no longer flow and there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how long these conditions will prevail.
The impact of this shutdown is already having a devastating impact on the lives of Christians in the Holy Land. They need our support urgently.
The same crisis has also enforced conditions in the UK which have already severely curtailed our ability to fundraise and so meet these increased calls for help from our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. As a Charity, we rely on the generosity and support of our wonderful Christian communities in the UK, yet, sadly, in light of the restrictions on worship and gatherings imposed in the current situation, many of our planned church appeals, fundraising events and activities cannot go ahead over the coming months. We hope this match funding opportunity will inspire you to replace these many missed fundraising opportunity.
The shutdown of Bethlehem continues at 12 weeks, Our team in Bethlehem advise that concerns are rising for those most vulnerable as the banks continue to be closed to the public and only open to business by appointment, atms are empty and the few stores that sell essential supplies are demanding cash payments. Our team are have so far managed to distribute cash to cover three months basic needs to 84 families in Bethlehem despite the difficult conditions as movement is severely restricted by police and army patrols. Employment conditions for most in the city are fragile, people live hand to mouth with no safety net provided by the government through social support.
West Bank and Gaza
The Palestinian Authority (PA) escalated measures across the West Bank on 22 March, when the PA announced a comprehensive curfew for 14 days, which obliges people to stay at home, except for the purchase of food and medicine, or in case of emergencies. On 2 April this curfew was extended for 4 weeks and is only beginning to be eased now after 12 weeks. The only financial assistance on offer is that the PA have instructed businesses to pay their staff 50% of their salaries for March and April – but no assistance to do so is available. They have also instructed banks to provide a 3 month delay of loan repayments (April – June). Interest remains as before.
As of 30 March, a total of 117 Palestinians have been confirmed to have COVID-19, 107 in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem Palestinians), and ten in the Gaza Strip. Of the West Bank cases, some 70 per cent are in Bethlehem’s urban area, and nearly 20 percent in the Ramallah governorate. There are however increasing concerns that the extent of this infection is underestimated as due to medical shortages as of 31 March the health authorities have only conducted 5,869 COVID-19 tests in the West Bank and Gaza.
Gaza is at the beginning of the pandemic curve. With two million people crowded together in area six by twenty-five miles, 70 percent are refugees, 97 percent of the water contaminated and unfit for consumption, basic measures to prevent the spread of the virus will prove challenging.
In Israel, new stricter regulations to contain the coronavirus outbreak came into effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday, 25 March, as the number of sick Israelis continues to climb, having hit 2,170 with 5 deaths. These restrictions are very similar to those we are experiencing now in the UK.
Nearly 400 people have been arrested in Jordan for violating an indefinite curfew introduced on Saturday 21 March that bans people from leaving their homes even to purchase food. Breaching the curfew, is punishable with up to one year in prison. There has been occasional relaxing of the curfew to allow people on foot to go to small local grocery shops, bakeries and pharmacies to ease the panic, however the curfew has been applied for an indefinite period.
Please help us by donating what you can BEFORE 31 May so that every £1 you give will be matched.
Please also consider:
We should ALL appreciate how fortunate and privileged we are to be able to ward off the coronavirus in these uncertain times by enduring an imposed lockdown and practising social distancing.
Despite our fears, inconveniences and grumbles we have the financial support of our government to ensure the medical support is ramped up to cope with our needs and that our own finances are cushioned for the future.Hand washing is a privilege it means you have access to continuous, clean, running water.
To be able to Social distance is a privilege, it means you are allowed to go outside and have a suitable outside space to distance in.
To be able to endure a lockdown is a privilege as it means you have a space to call home large enough for your family, with reliable electrical power to keep the food in your fridge fresh and to allow you to access the internet and work from home or watch Netflix.