Well, everyone I'm back from my long-awaited return to Palestine! I'm delighted to tell you that the inspiring Palestinian friends I made are still there and getting on with their lives despite many restrictions and difficulties. They say 'We refuse to be enemies. We have hope and trust in God for peace here.'
My main purpose in returning was to finally visit the Four Homes of Mercy, which is my President's Charity. Many of you have heard me talk about it and amazingly helped me to raise almost £1000 for them. Whilst I was asked to support the charity by Rev Angleena Keizer, the Methodist Minister in Jerusalem, and others who have been there I felt I needed to see for myself.
On arrival, I was surprised at how close to Jerusalem it was, although now separated by the Israeli Wall. The charity's director, Dr Ziyad, welcomed me and showed me around. My first impression was of cleanliness and hygiene with many smiles and waves to greet us. Dr Ziyad introduced me to staff as well as residents. Many of the residents were in wheelchairs with varying degrees of disability, but without exception all were laughing and pleased to see us. Some were enjoying watching TV together while others were in an activity room being helped by staff to throw balls into a net, thread beads to make necklaces or bracelets or even trying to play the piano, which I was told was a favourite activity for some! There was also a gym which they were taken into and could exercise under supervision. Dr Ziyad explained that many came from families who had no facilities to care for them and before they came to the Four Homes of Mercy, would just sit unable to enjoy any quality of life. There are 55 residents at the moment, mostly Muslims but some Christians. Dr Ziyad emphasised that more could be helped if he had the funds to employ more staff, although he did say he always tries to make room for anyone in need. The staff are carefully chosen and trained, with their families offered free health care at the Home.
Dr Zayid is a truly remarkable man. Once he retired, he became a Director of the Home and, in the ten months he has been there, he has also raised funds to start building a small hospital/clinic on the same site as the Home. This will not be just for the residents, but also for anyone living in the surrounding villages. Since the Israeli Wall was built, these villagers now have to travel a long way around to reach a hospital in Jerusalem. This new hospital to serve the community will truly be a Godsend. The hospital will charge a small fee as is the custom in Palestine/Israel, but the money will hopefully secure the future of the Four Homes of Mercy and may even make it independent of international funding.
I feel very privileged to have met some amazing people in Palestine. If you would like to know more, I would be delighted to come to your church/church groups to give you a PowerPoint Presentation. As always, you can contact me on 07975503019 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org