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Pcdc, Bethlehem, Christmas newsletter 2019
I cannot believe this is my 51st visit to Bethlehem, but always it’s a privilege to share in the lives of children and their families. Each autumn visit we go to schools in the morning to decide what we can afford to give each child towards their school fees. In the afternoons and evenings we visit their families at home. What lovely welcomes await us! Even the poorest homes welcome us with hugs and great kindness, and far too many snacks and drinks, which is the Arab way of hospitality.
We can talk with each child. We hear their hopes and dreams and fears, and sometimes their troubles. We are a crisis ministry: we try to move the problem forwards within 24 hours, and, we always say, “Where there’s a problem, there must be a solution. Come on, let’s sit down and find an answer, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make a way!”
The Pcdc team loves working here. For myself, as a retired parish priest, this work takes me back to when I used to walk round my parish. On foot you can meet lots of people and have time to share with them. I am deeply grateful to Barbara and James who make up the team this visit, for the time they give to children, their sacrificial devotion, their ideas and inspiration for the ministry we share.
Today is Friday. It’s early. Uphill on my right side, the minaret at the mosque is calling the Muslim people to prayer. As I write this, up on our left we can hear the great bells of the Catholic Church ringing for morning Mass. We visit, love and serve both communities. We are deeply grateful to Muslim and Christian members of the Pcdc team here in the city, who represent our work all the year round. They advise and support us. Mahmoud, our Muslim representative, is almost 30 years old, and a specialist nurse in baby care, who Pcdc trained over 10 years ago. He is a great help when we visit Muslim families, where our visit could otherwise be a little embarrassing within the community; but Mahmoud’s presence makes everything right with them. He also visits the Christian families where he is greatly loved.
We exist to help the poorest children. On Wednesday we went to see Ahmad at his school. He is 14 and suffers from a large congenital melanocytic pigmented nevus on his left hand and arm. This embarrasses him and he hides his hand much of the time. It is ugly and he is sometimes in despair about it. In May I noticed he looked very dejected and depressed. He rarely smiles. His hand behind his back, he was deflecting the tears of his heart. No doctor has been able to help him. He has had four unsuccessful operations on his hand, which is now ugly from scars and aggressive looking stitches that stand proud even now, so he can only dress with difficulty.
Pcdc is committed to finding a solution. I talked with him about taking him into Israel, where there are first class doctors. He was afraid, yet excited. “We must have hope” I told him. We will never give up. I took him by his affected hand and whispered to him “There is hope”. In Arabic it is “Fi amal”. Every time we see each other we mouth the words FI AMAL with thumbs up.
Yesterday he showed me his hand again. It was all bleeding and raw. The school principal and I dressed it for him. Then we took him to the hospital in Bethlehem to see that it was sterile and a kind nurse took care of him.
Now we will go to the Israeli hospital to get an appointment with the paediatric dermatologist. Pcdc will pay for it. (£250 for a consultation)
This week we heard that he has seen the Israeli doctor who wants to help the boy. It will take several days in hospital. The school principal has been back and had a long talk with the doctor. Ahmad will go in soon and have surgery and skin grafts. Soon both hands will look normal. For the first time in years, Ahmad smiled again.
It’s not about money; it’s about a boy, his self-image, his feelings about himself. It’s about personal dignity as the boy grows up, his self-worth. He is fourteen now and he first showed me his hand when he was seven years old. We have only a short time to get this right. But we will do it. We are committed to doing it. We have promised.
Jesus always looked for the poor. He gave hope to the bruised reeds, the smouldering wicks. To get Ahmad to the hospital we must get his Father’s written permission. We went to his humble home in Hebron to get his medical records (In that country the family keeps the records, not the doctor). I enjoyed meeting his ancient grandma there. We need a military permit for Ahmad to cross the Wall into Jerusalem. But we will do it. Christmas reminds us that that is why Jesus came: to give us healing and hope. Thank you so much for standing with us for these very poor children.
As Christmas comes, pray for these children, born in the same land where Jesus was born.
And above all, remember: FI AMAL. There is HOPE!
May Jesus touch you with His love and healing, and give you living Hope.
Yours sincerely and thankfully, Have a Christmas filled with blessings!
**Pcdc News: September 2019**
Dear Friends and supporters of Pcdc,
Term has just started at the schools in Bethlehem, on Saturday 31 August, and so this month will be for us at Pcdc a time of reviewing and making a budget. We currently support 191 children and young people in the West Bank, and every one is being supported because of your kindness, so each one can go to school or university. If we did not help them, they might not be able to get any kind of education at all.
So thank you for your help. I still believe that every penny you send is being spent only on the support of these children. There are, of course, expenses, even for a voluntary charity like Pcdc; but these are covered by Gift Aid collected on so many of your kind donations.
There are two things that challenge us just now: first the looming of Brexit. Even the threat of it affects the pound. The British pound today is worth only 4.03 shekels. It can go up, and it can go even further down. A few years ago, we were getting 8 shekels to the pound. This means effectively that we can only support half the number of children that we used to support. We once supported 340 children! We support as many as we dare to, but there is always the possibility that we might have to reduce our support for each child, which we don’t want to do.
The other big challenge is the number of students who want to, and deserve to, go to university at the end of their school days. This number is increasing as the quality of school education rises, and better prospects arise for the better educated young people.
At Pcdc we have decided long ago that we cannot support every student who wants to go to university, because, whereas school fees come to about £700 for each child each year, at university this cost rises to almost £2000 for each student each year. So for every university student, we must reduce the number of children we support.
So we have set the maximum number of students at university we can support to 10 each year; but more than 10 will want to go. This results in us having to say No to some students, which is so sad. It is really sad, and keeps me awake at nights.
This year, the final school exam results came out about the middle of July. But the universities required applications for a place to be finalised by 31 July. This gave the students little time to make their plans. And if they want us to help them, they have to get in touch with us, and we have to make quick decisions within about two weeks. Ultimately, it results in “First come, first served” which may not turn out to be fair. That’s what keeps me awake at nights! I can’t come up with a better answer.
This summer we had to turn down three good students, who really have a great need for support, and the best we can offer them is to try again for a place next year, and to get in first.
That will cause a backlog next year as I can see there are many Year 12 students who will apply next year as they reach the end of their school days and want to go on to university.
My heart aches for those we cannot help. These two problems (the drop in the pound and the rise in applications to university) react against each other. We go on trusting that God will show us the way forward, and supply our needs, as has always happened now for the last 23 years. I do thank God for His wonderful provision. There is no other way to explain it.
At the same time we do thank God for you who continue to support the children Pcdc chooses to help, giving to each one a chance to rise above their problems, and to make something of their lives.
Let me tell you about one of these children. She is in the waiting list. This means that Pcdc cannot yet support her, for the reasons you see above. But we want to help her. There are so many like her. Her name is Nicole (that is, we will call her Nicole). She is 4 years old.
She was born in July 2015 and is one of three children. She was, like so many of the children we come across, born in Bethlehem. She has started school, and is currently in what is called the “Little Angel” Kindergarten. She is in good health and says she doesn’t have a favourite colour. Her Mum is 27 years old and Dad is 33. They are a Christian family. Dad is lucky because he has a job: he works as a blacksmith. However, in a country as poor as Palestine, people rarely call on blacksmiths to help them: rather they try to sort things out themselves. Sometimes only one farm implement or only one horse may come in for repair or re-shoeing in a month. That will not feed a family of 5 people. It doesn’t pay the cost of clothes for three growing children. It certainly does not pay school fees. So the children would stay at home instead. They will be denied the chance to start an education, which is every child’s right.
Nicole has a twin brother who is also at the same school, and in the same class. Nicole is a very calm little girl, but her twin brother is jumpy and nervous. He can’t sit still. To keep these two children in school costs £600 each child, which is well beyond these parents’ means. But, until we are able to, these two children must remain in the waiting list.
Meanwhile we are about to pay school fees for 191 children, beginning this month. The total bill looks like being £121,000. We praise God for the kindness of people who have provided (or will provide) the means to support all these children, ten of whom are at university, where we pay the full fees. It’s risky. Personally I like a risk, because it gives God a chance to show His magnificent answer to our prayers. We set out long before all the money has reached us, but in 23 years we have trusted God to provide, and He has never failed us yet. There is also one large medical bill coming up. So sleeves up! Let’s get going!
As always we thank you so much. It’s wonderful to know that almost 200 children are being educated because of your Great Kindness, and over 23 years it is about 25000 children whose lives we have touched. Thank you, and may God bless you all!
Malcolm S. Jones, Co-Ordinator
Pcdc News: Winter/Spring 2018
Dear PCDC Supporters
It is my pleasure to write to tell you of our continuing work to support the children in our care. Currently we are looking after the needs of 231 children aged from 3 years to 23. Each child in our Pcdc family has his or her own story, and although this looks like a statistic, they are, at least to me, very real people, with big problems. Each child or teenager is considered separately, cared for appropriately, and paid for as we can afford it, to encourage that child or young person, and give to each one a sense of support and love. Our heart is still a heart of compassion. This is what makes Pcdc different from other charities, as we know from 23 years of doing it!
We are now in the process of renewing ourselves. Some of us are getting on a bit (including myself) and we must renew our trustee base, to plan, bring our administration up to date, and be there for the years ahead. I thank God that we now have some more technological and younger people, who can manage our finances and records in a more up to date way, and rely less on my own personal memory. It’s hard to keep in touch with about 850 sponsors and donors on a voluntary basis. If you haven’t had an update on your sponsored child, please let me know, and I will put you into priority!!
Let me share with you the story of one child, who we will call John*. I remember him when I first came across him, when he was two years old. His Father was a poor man, but he was killed on the road to Hebron in 2005, when his old car had broken down and he was on the hard shoulder, fixing it. Another car didn’t see him and crashed into the car, killing John’s Father. Mother was alone, with three children. She came to us for some help. We took all three into sponsorship. Meanwhile the Father’s body remained at the roadside until the Israelis picked it up and dumped it on the Palestinian side. A kind friend took the body and buried it at his own expense.
Little John was not yet at school. We clothed him, saw that he had something to eat and checked any medical needs. Eventually, John started school, and Pcdc paid all his school fees, each year as he grew older.
Mother moved out of her rented home in a bad part of Bethlehem, and found a flat in Beit Jala. It was on the top floor of a new block. We visited her frequently, and saw to the needs of her three boys. There was danger in this home because the balustrade was not fitted to the stairs, right to the top of the block, and it would be easy to fall over the edge. Once when I visited them, one child was locked inside, and we had to talk to each other through the keyhole. Why was he locked in?
John seemed to have some educational problems, and he was advised to attend a very good Muslim school in El Khadr village, where we continued to support him.
Meanwhile, Mother met and later married a Muslim man, who promised to be kind to her Christian children. We found him to be very amicable. But when she bore him a son of his own, he turned her children out of the home, and we lost contact with all three children. Both families now reject the Mother and her boys: the Christian side (Mother’s) has rejected them because Mother married a Muslim. The Father’s side has rejected them because he married a Christian. The boys are rejected by both sides, and remain homeless.
We discovered that the Franciscan brothers have taken in the boys to give them a home. (This reminds me of my own life: the Franciscan brothers gave me a home for 6 years when I also was without a home), so Pcdc has re-sponsored the boys and are continuing in their support.
We visited them in November and found John to be much more confident, but his English to be very poor. Apparently, the original grandparents take him back to their home at weekends, so they are softening at last. John does not see his Mother any more.
This year, we have found them again. The older boy is working. John and his brother are studying at a Christian school in Bethlehem and well cared for. They are homeless. But the brothers protect them, and Pcdc pays their school needs.
This is typical of the kind of child Pcdc cares for. We do so without any conditions. (God’s love for us is unconditional). We just have a heart for children in situations beyond their control. We are the only charity, as far as we know, that is entirely child-centred. It is an enormous privilege to stand by a child in a broken situation, to support the parents, or anyone else who is caring for such a child. We have a heart full of compassion which at times is crazy; but we feel it is what God wants us to do.
Thank you for being part of all this, for your support and love and care. Bless you for caring for these broken ones, God’s sparrows, mostly unknown and forgotten.
Malcolm S. Jones, Co-Ordinator (*Name changed for safe-guarding reasons)
Pcdc News: August 2017
Dear PCDC Supporters
It is my pleasure to write to tell you of our continuing work to support the children in our care. Currently we are looking after the needs of 255 children aged from 3 years to 23. This number will change this month as we hear news of those who have left school, and then we will get requests from all the 30 or so schools where we support children to take on new ones.
A lot has happened so far this summer. I myself was suddenly called to the Hospital to receive a kidney transplant. I have been suffering kidney failure for many years, and this has given me a new lease of life. But I will be unable to carry out some of my work in Palestine for about 18 months. So, I have briefed our Pcdc team and all the jobs I have been doing are now carried out by other members of the team. I am sure you will understand that administrative work is heavy and carried out by volunteers only. It’s hard to keep in touch with about 850 sponsors on a voluntary basis. If you haven’t had an update on your sponsored child, please let me know, and I will put you into priority!! We don’t want to employ anyone, as that would reduce our resources. We could do with some more voluntary help! After almost 2 months in hospital I am out now but it takes time to regain strength. Thank you to all those who sent me good wishes, cards, and who prayed for my recovery.
At Pcdc we are always receiving calls for help. This week the family I wrote about in March called again. The school had unexpectedly called the Mother, who has no husband to support her (he was on drugs and the marriage has ended), demanding 10000 shekels (£2273.) Pcdc had already sent to school several hundred pounds. It was all we could spare. The Mother never finished school, has no certificate and can never get paid employment.
This time the school had decided to kick out one of her two girls, and refused to give her a certificate, which she needs to move on. We at Pcdc have complained to the school but they will not change their mind.
I spoke on the phone to the girl and we have arranged for her to move to another school with the full backing of Pcdc. It has taken a long time to arrange but I am happy to say that the second school has been very co-operative and helpful. There will be a problem with her sister who has chosen to stay at the original school: it will probably end in her having to leave and it will all happen again.
This is a sad breakdown of trust as we have usually had a wonderful working relationship with that school until the present administration took over.
We will not let the two girls down. PCDC’s mission is to stand by poor children.
Let me share with you the story of Dina*, a 7-year old girl, who trusts PCDC to stand by her in her young life. Dina lives on the edge of Bethlehem. Her Dad was a farmer until the Israelis required his land and took it. Now they live in a small house with a little bit of land at the side, not enough to farm as it is in an urban area. This house belongs to the grandparents. They still have a few horses which they rent out. That is almost the only income they have. There is a tiny shop in one room and a small greenhouse where they grow plants which the Mother sells. There are 5 children and two parents so the grandparents are not too pleased as the house is so small.
Pcdc supports 4 of the 5 children. We pay a large contribution to their school fees. We have also helped to redesign the children’s bedroom as three were sleeping in one bed. With Mother’s help, we designed the room to have two bunk beds to give more space. These were provided out of donations sent to Pcdc, made in Bethlehem and delivered and set up. Now the children can sleep more comfortably. We have now delivered several bunk beds to help overcrowded families.
Dina is a gentle child who likes drawing. She is the calmest child in this large family. Mother is struggling to keep the family together and we felt many tensions within the family. Dina’s fees cost Pcdc £150 to register her for next year at school. Her school fees will be £550 of which Pcdc will pay up to £350, depending on our income.
We believe that children should have the best chances we can give them and help them to escape the round of violence that is so damaging. We will stand by any child who calls to us for help. We will find a way forward. If we cannot, we will make a way, and it must be funded, but we can always help a lost or lonely child because there are people like you who send us donations that we can use to sustain the destitute, vulnerable or disadvantaged child. Thank you so much.
Malcolm S. Jones, Co-Ordinator
(*Name changed for safe-guarding reasons)
Pcdc April/May 2017 Newsletter
From Malcolm Jones, Pcdc Co-ordinator :
Dear PCDC Supporter,
Currently we are caring for 251 children: of these, 111 are orphans. The others are terribly poor. How do we turn any away?
Kathleen Todd returned in March from Bethlehem. She has visited many schools, and homes where children live. It is always good to hear that some of our students from many years ago are doing well. Some are now married and sending us pictures of their beautiful children. Others are working, teaching, running offices. One is studying medicine in Dusseldorf, another studying to be a doctor in the USA. One is doing engineering in Algeria. As one of them told us last week on the phone, “If PCDC hadn’t found me, I would be selling peanuts on the street from a barrow, not designing aircraft engines in the USA”. He was one of a family of 18 children! We spotted his brains in 1997 as a poor 12-year-old whose father sent him for one year only at school, and PCDC has supported him right through to his MA.
But poverty remains a problem for many families struggling to bring up their children in the face of rising costs. Food in Palestine is now almost double what we pay in England, yet wages are stuck: a good wage on average is only about £300 a month. Almost all our PCDC supported children would not be able to go to school if we were not there to support them. Worse than that is if the father loses his job. There are no benefits at all in Palestine. Worse than that is if the father loses his health. Then big bills come, and no wages to pay them. Worse than that is if the father should die. Sometimes the parents split up. Sometimes there seem to be no parents anywhere.
Let me tell you about one of these children: Ayham*. We have helped this boy since he was 12 years old. He came from a broken family. When his parents split up neither father nor mother would take him to live with them. He was abandoned. He lived with his grandma for two weeks, then with an uncle for two weeks. There was nowhere he could really call home. He has now lived at school for six years. PCDC paid £1000 each year to the school for his board; but it was never home. At school, there used to be no facilities for him. All the weekend he would roam the school grounds with nothing but homework to do. There was no TV, no games room, nowhere to relax. Franciscan Aid and PCDC provided much needed recreational facilities for him, and for some 15 other boys living at the school. Now there is a new football pitch.
Ayham has been supported all through his school life. He has two sponsors: one a Rotary Club, and the other a generous lady. Between us, and along with lots of donations, we have been able to keep Ayham going. He has studied hard and now is about to take his final exams. He wants to become a teacher if he can make it. Sometimes I have met him along the road from Beit Jala to El Khadr, walking the three miles to visit his grandma. He would not have the money to go by bus. He has had a problem with his breathing and had to see a specialist. PCDC paid for this and now he has had a successful operation.
All this has been possible because of your wonderful generosity, changing the lives of the poorest children and giving them a spark of hope and love.
It is always our great privilege to be there, to see them all, and to share their stories, to take their photos, to love them and be there for them in practical, down to earth ways. The Middle East will never be an easy place for a child to grow up. Thank you for helping these precious children and young people.
On behalf of these children, and especially any child you have been able to help, may we wish you and your dear ones every blessing, with our very sincere thanks.
Malcolm S. Jones, Pcdc Coordinator
[*Name changed for safeguarding purposes.]
Pcdc March 2017 Newsletter
From Malcolm Jones, Pcdc Co-ordinator :
Dear Pcdc Supporters,
It is my pleasure to write to tell you of our continuing work to support the children in our care. Currently we are looking after the needs of 246 children aged from 3 years to 23.
We are always receiving calls for help. This week a mother called us in some distress. She has two daughters: her husband has been on drugs and she has had to divorce him. She herself is not educated: she did not finish her time at school. Therefore she has no certificate of education and this means that she cannot get work: no-one will employ her without the certificate. So, she has no husband, no work and no income at all.
Her problem was that the school her daughters attend is asking for the school fees. She said she needed 2000 shekels (about £450.) It is not really a huge amount; but to a woman with nothing it is impossible. She was getting nowhere and she was afraid the school would kick out the two girls. She did the right thing: she called PCDC.
PCDC contacted the school to check on these figures. It turns out that the mother is really owing a total figure of 14,109 shekels, (about £3,200!) No wonder she was in a panic! PCDC negotiated with the school to cover the immediate need, which is the tuition fees, and we have sent £650 as a start to solving the problem. By paying that, we can now negotiate a figure which will help towards the rest of the fees, including the accommodation costs as these two children live in the school. This both helps the school, and also fends off the problems of debt collection. We now have some time and space to find other funding sources to help with the rest.
That is a typical afternoon. I then called the mother back and asked her to try not to be anxious. PCDC is here, and we are standing by. We will not let the two girls down. PCDC’s mission is to stand by poor children. Thanks to you, the supporters, we can say YES! So, you see how grateful we are for every donation and standing order.
Let me share with you the story of Thwayya*, a 16-year old Muslim girl, who trusts PCDC to stand by her at this important time in her young life. Thwayya comes from the north of Palestine. At first her life was a happy one, at home with her parents and her younger brothers and sister. Then something happened: her father got into drugs and his personality changed. From being a loving and caring husband he became violent and angry: his wife was scared that he would injure her or hurt one of the children. Thwayya was very scared. She ran away: she ran right down to the south of the country to an aunt, which is where she lives today.
At last she is safe from disputes and violence, and the school told PCDC about her, and PCDC agreed to help her. We pay most of her school fees. Sadly, she told me that she can’t remember much about her family: she can only remember her kind auntie. PCDC is committed to helping such children, especially Muslim girls. They would not otherwise have much of a chance in life.
We believe that children should have the best chances we can give them and help them to escape the round of violence that is so damaging. Then there are the babies and the toddlers, who have lost a parent. They do not know about their future; but with PCDC their future will be secure. We will take care of all their needs, if necessary, until they reach adulthood.
We will stand by any child who calls to us for help. We will find a way forward and it must be funded, but we can always help a lost or lonely child because there are people like you who send us donations that we can use to sustain the destitute lonely tearful child. We can be trusted to find a way for them, as we do every time a child, a parent or a school calls on us.
Thank you so much!!
[*Name has been changed for safe-guarding reasons]
Pcdc Newsletter: Christmas 2016
From Malcolm S. Jones, Pcdc Co-ordinator…
I am writing to you in a little room about 100 metres from the spot where Jesus Christ was born. PCDC is here in Bethlehem working on our third visit this year. We think of Bethlehem at Christmas: we usually sing “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie”. It is very different today. Bethlehem now is a vast sprawling city with houses built on every square metre of land. It is far from being a little town: and it is never still, like in the Christmas carol. Bethlehem is a noisy eastern city, with enormous traffic jams, honking cars and endless noise. Everywhere you can hear the clattering of pneumatic drills, bulldozers, cars and more cars, racing engines, and screeching tyres. There is endless noise.
Bethlehem is surrounded by a very high wall. No-one can leave the city without a permit, and these are very hard to get. Indeed, Bethlehem is often described as a large dusty prison. The dust is everywhere: it gets down our throats, parches our lips, enters our lungs. We cough all day and half the night. Into this eastern maelstrom, God chose to be born as man. The wonder of this is never absent from our hearts. Why ever did God choose to be born in this place? Here He would be surrounded by those who would oppose Him: cunning tricksters, over-holy religious people who knew better than the Son of God. Here He would be persecuted, hunted down, and , as a child, would have to run for His life as a refugee. Here under the boiling sunshine, He would struggle to breathe. He was oppressed, and remained a prisoner to the strong army of those who opposed Him.
So, what’s changed? Nothing much has changed. Life here is pretty much the same today. It is a real struggle. Here is a woman with three children to raise. Where is her husband? We don’t know. He is simply not here. He is probably in the “hotel” (slang for the jail). She earns £400 in a small shop. She pays rent for her rodent-infested house (£200 a month), and lives on what’s left. With this she must pay for electricity (much dearer than in England) and water, when it comes, is also much more expensive than in the UK. She needs food for her three little ones aged 5, 7 and 9. There is no heating in their home, high on the mountain outside Bethlehem. The children are in summer tee-shirts all the year round. Outside the temperature has dropped to 3 Centigrade. It is winter.
PCDC is on a routine visit. The children run to give us big hugs. We can seethat they miss their Daddy. We detect that they are well below the breadline. I look around the home. There are almost no toys. In the kitchen, the fridge is empty, just a few slices of bread and some ice cubes. Clearly these children go to school hungry. They tell me that even the bus driver lets them use the bus to go to school and does not take a fare.
Time to act: we take the mother and the children to the supermarket. We help her to fill a trolley with basics and one or two luxuries. A trolley load of groceries at Aldi’s back home would cost less than £50: here it comes to £146 for the same items. The 9-year old is bursting out of his trousers. They are too tight and half way up his legs. His shoes are pinching and worn. Mother has no money for new clothes. PCDC will help her to sort it out; another trip to theBethlehem market, to abu Rumman’s. The 5-year old drives the trolley; the two trolleys. Then the trolleys drive him, down a slope. He giggles as he tries to steady them. He is a very tiny child. I remember when he was a baby, carrying him to the doctor. He needed splints on his legs every three weeks. He had “clicky hips”. Now he is OK, but very, very vulnerable.
We buy all the clothes that all three children will need for the winter: shirts and blouses, trousers and underclothes, pyjamas, jackets, jumpers, scarves and gloves. I stupidly have forgotten to bring my credit card. Luckily the merchant lets me pay him in Jordanian dinars as I had some with me. He is a kindly man. I pay £360 in dinars. There are many charities here in Bethlehem, all doing good work. But all the charities support institutions. There is only one that people can call on when a crisis comes. PCDC will go to the house and school to sort out the problems. We will see to the rodents in the house. Paul, another trustee, is wonderful at fixing broken toilets, doors, showers. We will let the children hug us, bring them toys, play with the children, love them, listen to them, pray with them, bring Christ’s love into their homes. Only PCDC does this: we work professionally, to high standards, but we do not mind getting our hands dirty and bring the love of Jesus to the broken hearts of the poor.
What a privilege!
This team is made up of Kathleen, who listens to, and prays with, the families; James, our IT man, who keeps in touch with England, and with Peter, our financial manager; Mahmoud, our faithful one-time student, now a nurse at Bethlehem Children’s Hospital, who helps us with transport and translations and in many other ways so reliable; and Paul, our practical man, who likes fixing things. Then there is me: I co-ordinate the programme and work alongside all the schools and homes. Mahmoud understands the culture and is totally trustworthy and reliable: young and strong, he is 26 years old and we are proud to have him on the team.
So here we are in Bethlehem, sending to you our love and greetings, and our prayers. Please pray also for us. Pray for the poor, the fatherless, the widows and the broken families, the sick children. When you eat your Christmas dinner, remember those who will eat rice and beans. When your children open their presents, remember those who have no toys at all. When you turn on your central heating, remember those who have no heating, or could not afford to run it.
Bless you for reading this, and for your support all the year round. God bless you for making our work here a possibility, bringing hope to the broken ones, and food to the hungry ones, clothes to the cold ones, and love to the ones whose hopes have been dashed to the ground.
We are sustaining 245 children, the latest one a child of three years, a small boy who has been abandoned. All 245 are in school with fees paid for. There is hope.
May the Christ child also bring to you hope and peace and joy this Christmastide.
With love and thanks to you all,
Pcdc Newsletter: October 2016
Malcolm S. Jones, Pcdc Co-ordinator writes...
"...We have reached a very busy time for us. The schools are all back in full swing, and we are receiving details of children who have left school, and lots of new ones coming in. The schools try to ask us to help many, many more children than we could cope with. It’s always one of our heartaches to have to choose who we can help and who we can’t.
This month we have taken three girls into sponsorship who have been on our waiting list for 6 years!!! At last there is space for them and we have been to visit them in their home, and put them all into sponsorship.
One of our girls at Talitha Kumi managed to get away. We heard that she and her Mother and brother had left the country; we did not know where. This week we hear that they have turned up in Turkey, where things are not much better for them. A friend from another charity is traveling to Turkey this week to see what has happened.
This little family suffered a lot. The Father went off with another woman. Three children were left in the care of their Mother, who was not educated and could only get work as a cleaner. The Father abducted the elder son. We placed the next two children into care. The abducted son has returned and is working. The next son is working and the girl should be in school.
Pcdc has cared for all the children right to the end of their school days.
Three of us will return to Bethlehem on 3 November. Pray that we will have enough time to spend with these troubled people, to talk with and pray with them in their suffering. God will provide all that we need. But we need so much patience and compassion. Love to you all and thanks!!..."
Pcdc Newsletter: September 2016
This is getting to be a busy time for us now that the schools are mostly back. We are waiting to know which pupils have left school, whose sponsorships will need to be changed, and who has come to school in a destitute state, needing help. We expect we will receive streams of requests to help children who are finding it difficult to cope with the circumstances of life on the West Bank. Many of these will be unable to pay school fees, because their Dad is short of work, has lost his job, or it is intermittent, unsustainable work, or because their Dad is ill or in prison. Or because they haven’t got a Dad anyway.
A small young Muslim teenager called Hassan has come to Hope School from a special school in Bethlehem, and we are beginning to understand something about his problems. He is one of 10 children in this family and they have moved into a dilapidated old house which had been abandoned by a Christian family who had decided to flee the country. His Father died a few years ago and left the Mother with ten children to bring up alone. Most of these have now grown up and Hassan is the youngest, at age 14. I went to see him. When I found the house I could see why the Christian family left: it is hard up against the security barrier and surrounded by barbed wire. There is much tension in the area.
Hassan is only just able to walk. He will never be able to play football. He was born with some kind of problem and has had no treatment for it. When I called at the house there were no adults present so we talked in the yard outside the house. Hassan told me about himself. He likes goats and he has a few goats in this yard, where they eat anything from scraps to litter. Hassan proudly brought me a little kid goat that had been born a couple of days before, and he was very tenderly caring for it.
I asked if he would like to get some treatment for his legs, and he told me that he would like this. We arranged for him to see a neuro-specialist who said that the child needs physiotherapy before he can do anything to help him. We have arranged sessions of physio at £15 per session. We would like to do something more practical to help this child to be able to walk better.
Donations continue to come in, thank God, and we hope that we will be able to move this child forward a little in his young life. We continue to experience difficulties in sending money to Palestine electronically. This week we were able to take some money into Bethlehem and pay a few bills, just a few small ones. Please pray that the bank will be able to send money properly and legally as before.
One of our trustees, Paul, returns from Bethlehem today and has done a great job for us over the last two weeks. He was helped by our wonderful former sponsored child Mahmoud. Mahmoud is now 26 years old and is helping us at Pcdc with all his heart. He is working as a staff nurse in the Caritas Children’s Hospital in Bethlehem, and has a great heart to help children. We are enormously grateful to Mahmoud for the help he has given to Paul this month. His knowledge of the area is so useful to us and he is loved by all the families he is able to visit.
Meanwhile some people have generously increased their kind donations to Pcdc, to cover the devaluing of the sterling pound. I thank God for this generosity as it shows that God will still make it possible for us to trust Him in spite of the problems. We will find a way: or we will make a way.
Please pray for us. We thank you for your wonderful generosity, which enables us to help change the lives of the poorest children and giving them a spark of hope and some love. On behalf of these children, and especially any child you have been able to help, may we wish you and your dear ones every blessing, with our very sincere thanks.
Malcolm S. Jones, Pcdc Co-ordinator.
Fred Holmes, MB, BS, FRCS
One of our long-serving trustees, Fred Holmes, very sadly passed away over two years ago in February 2014.
He was a good friend, a quiet and wise counsellor, and our medical
advisor. He stood by us in our crises, held us in his prayers and in his heart, and he in ours. We miss him so much.
Fred was one of God's dearest and best friends, a gentleman and a loving and generous benefactor. He was great to work with, to pray with, to listen to, and he had a good listening ear.
He was a devout and inspirational brother in Christ and we will never replace him. In the Middle East, where he worked as a doctor for many years, he loved and understood the people, and was gentle and kind to children.