For Christians the focus of Christmas is the Birth of Christ.
We can’t separate Bethlehem from Christmas nor would we want to. As the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord approaches we again appeal for your support to help elderly people in that very special place.
We all want to enjoy Christmas with the giving of presents, plenty of food and celebration. Many feel they have more than enough. A great many want to do something for others at Christmas.
The plight of the elderly in Bethlehem has been summarised thus:
“Alone, abandoned by their families, sick and without access to care services, it’s difficult to be elderly in Bethlehem. Since the Palestinian health system depends on international aid, it is therefore unable to provide accessibility to essential services. The people of the Palestinian Territories are suffering the socio-economic consequences, such as malnutrition, the impossibility of continued support for chronic diseases and a lack of medicine and suitable facilities.
In particular, there are no services at all for dependent elderly people, nor social security programmes or pension funds that could alleviate, even if only partially, the burden carried by their families. All of this leads to a continuous increase in cases of elderly people who are living alone, or entrusted to shelters that, due to the crisis, are unable to meet their primary needs or guarantee basic medical care.” (Pro Terra Sancta)
There is, however, hope.
The rented rooms are cramped and admit only 22 people at any one time. Some help with running costs is provided by other charities but, even with outside help, St Martha’s House can only cater for a total 37 women on a rota basis. The list of those who are known to be in need is many times that number.
There is no provision for elderly men.
St Martha’s House extends a compassionate hand of support to poor, lonely and vulnerable elderly women in Bethlehem. Here ladies meet for companionship, food, personal care and mutual support. Without St Martha’s and its limited programmes, many elderly women would literally be abandoned.
The local community cannot extend its support to make St Martha’s House a permanent feature. They simply do not have the resources.
Our objective is to have facilities for the elderly provided on a permanent basis from a permanent place which will offer support for many more people, including elderly gentlemen.
Those who look to the future would one day aim to have Hospice Care provided – but, presently, that day seems yet far off. The Parish Priest of St Catherine’s Parish in Bethlehem has recently written to say how much a hospice is needed there – now.
Can you or your parish help this Christmas?
Last year we had donations from Parish Cribs, a UCM group collected 20p pieces, proceeds from parish concerts, coffee mornings, a golf day and people being sponsored to undertake The Extreme Water-Wipeout.
We have benefitted too from the generosity of individuals who make regular monthly contributions and we have had some very generous donations. The Fund now stands at just £140,000. Thus we continue to edge our way slowly, but very purposefully, towards our goal.
Please pray for the success of this project and in your generosity please support the elderly in Bethlehem whatever way you can this Christmas.
Donations can be made via mobile phone – simply text THBF01 followed by the amount you want to give to 70070. (Do it now it only takes seconds)
For further information or to make a donation please visit our website: www.hallambethlehemfund.com or write to The Hallam (Bethlehem) Fund, 37 Conalan Avenue, Bradway, Sheffield, S17 4PG or telephone 0114 2368859.