PCDC News: November 2020
It has been a strange and challenging year, both for the children in Bethlehem and their families, for their schools and teachers, and also for the whole population of the country. Bethlehem is closed: no-one may enter. And for us at Pcdc, working remotely, unable to visit the families we support, we are working the best we can. The families and schools see us as friends who will not let them down since we will help to cover their school fees and some other needs they will have.
I am writing on behalf of the children we support to thank you for your generous recent donations. We have worked now for 25 years with families in this area, and have known some very hard times. Probably the worst times were in the early 2000’s when there was open and ugly conflict, and people were very scared and traumatised. But even then we were able to be there with them, to comfort them and share their pain.
This time the unseen enemy keeps us all apart. It destroys stability. It infects anyone. It closes down the whole country. There are no tourists (the lifeblood of the people in Bethlehem). All the shops and workshops are closed. People are sent home. Businesses closed down. At best they are on half pay. Most are on no pay. There are no furloughs, no benefits, no handouts. No money means they are unable to buy food. School fees are out of the question. The schools tell us that they have received only 11% of the fees, so they cannot pay the teachers. Nurses have gone on to half pay: the government is running out of money.
Schools remain open if they can, but all schools are struggling. Many schools are open some days and closed others. One school is open two days a week only, not always the same two. Children have to learn online, but not all children have WIFI, and certainly not all have a laptop. Some don’t even have electricity. So education is disrupted. They are doing the best they can. They are very much less able to manage than we are in Britain.
We received a call from one school “we have a very serious case.... with three kids, Evan* aged 12, Nicola* aged 7 and baby Ilyan aged 7 months. The father had a car accident and had to go to Israel because all his body was broken. Mother left her work because of corona crisis. They have an open balance “(that means money owing to the school for fees)” of 11, 290 NIS “(shekels, equal to £2754)” Can you help?”
Of course we will help. That is the purpose of Pcdc: to help any child in a crisis “at the point of their crisis”, to quote our constitution.
We can imagine that poor Mother, trying to feed three children on no money. She will struggle even to buy baby food, nappies, clothes. There will be no income. We also know that the best treatment available is in Israel, but at a price. Unless the Father had insurance, it costs £700 every day just to be on a ward in an Israeli hospital. Then you have to pay for treatment, and medicine, anaesthetic and surgery. The only option is to take her children out of the Christian school and go to a Government school, which costs very much less.
Government schools are good but the Christian schools have a much higher level of education. Government school often have 70 pupils in a class; Christian schools average 15 to 20. Government schools are sometimes on strike because the teachers are often months behind in their salary. Many government schools make it hard for Christian pupils and Islam is preferred. Many Muslim parents prefer to send their children to Christian schools because they get better results. Children tell me that the discipline in Government schools is harsh: in Christian schools it is firm, but gentle.
This is one of the recent requests. We have had requests about 5 other families, 16 more children. We will consider each one, how can we help them?
Pcdc is not so much a charity as a Faith Ministry. We have never appealed for donations. We pray that God will send us what we need to sustain children in a crisis. In 25 years He has not failed us. We will go on serving children for as long as God gives us the time, the health, the energy and the funds that the children need. We are happy to help any child, whether they are Muslim or Jewish or Christian. We have very few overheads, (only bank fees) as we are all volunteers.
Sometimes I think we are bonkers; but I guess God must like bonkers people since He has made plenty of us! What we do doesn’t easily make sense, but then I know that Pcdc has helped to change many children’s lives. Many of our former children are now working, happily married, and doing well in their own sphere. Some now help us in our ministry to others. It is very rewarding and very wonderful to be able to help children caught up in a crisis. They can contact us any time knowing we will reply, any time of the day. Your gifts are life transforming for some of these children. Thank you so much. God bless you for helping.
Malcolm S. Jones, Coordinator
*not their real names, for safeguarding reasons