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Support for communities in Bethlehem coordinated by Rojer Salameh

Families in Bethlehem already challenged by the occupation now face the devastating effects of the pandemic and escalating conflict. We have seen scenes of a deserted Bethlehem in lockdown. Rojer Salameh a volunteer at the Franciscan Youth Group in Bethlehem has identified ways we can directly help the community in Bethlehem and is coordinating this support. He has suggested:

1. Offering food baskets to the needy and vulnerable families coordinating this with the parish priest.

2. Helping supply medicine to the elderly.

3. Organising two cultural and sociable events with the youth and children of the church.

4. Visiting the elderly women at one of the charity organisations in Bethlehem bringing them gifts.

Rojer explains, “Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, is empty of tourism, dead economically and the poorest city in Palestine. Poverty and unemployment are increasing. There is no government unemployment support. There have only been a few initiatives to distribute food mostly to those with covid infection. Christians are in urgent need of support otherwise there will be no Christians anymore. Dead stones with no living stones.” He describes life in conflict, “Every evening when the conflict escalates, and clashes occur with the Israeli soldiers at the seam areas and the separation wall, we hear the bullets, and the tear gas reaches our house. We close all the windows it feels as if we are in prison” …

“We remain in hope that the situation will improve, we will live in peace and the occupation will end. Please keep us in your prayers. My warm heartfelt greetings and prayers to all at St Mary’s Cathedral.”

Francis Hannaway - Working to alleviate hunger in the Congo

Francis Hannaway, from Middlesbrough, is resident in Basankusu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2014, he started working for the treatment of malnourished children and now manages a treatment centre, with a team of 12 local volunteers. When we contacted him about our support his project, he responded to us as follows -

‘It is great news to be included as a recipient charity in the Cathedral Parish’s fundraising! We currently have 42 children; 15 are severe cases and have 3 meals at our centre, 7 days a week. The others would still be in a life-threatening condition without our intervention. We’ve had some children who have arrived at night – we have to be on call 24 hours. Our local hospital is little more than a few brick buildings with dusty cement floors. During April and May 2021, we’ve lost 5 children. All of these children arrived too late, despite our efforts, to be saved. But to keep it in perspective, we’ve helped more than 4,000 children back to good health since we started.

We’ve also taken on a few surgical operations. It’s not really within our remit – yet sometimes it’s difficult to refuse, but the majority of our work remains with malnourished children – feeding very sick children and paying for their medical costs. Our closest large town is Mbandaka; it sits on the River Congo where the Equator crosses it. We make trips there by river to buy sacks of milk powder, beans, sugar, maize, containers of vegetable oil, and so on. For more information on our work please see my Blog :

God Bless'