Malcolm and the Pcdc team write...
Once again it is my pleasure to write to you on behalf of the children we support through Pcdc.
The number of children has dropped for a while, as some will leave school this month. New children will arrive in the summer so for now the number has dropped and in August they will go up again. The schools are interviewing new children this month for the next school year.
We are in the third month of lockdown here in the UK. Things are better in Bethlehem now the worst is over. As from midday on 26 May all of Bethlehem is open: all the shops, businesses, churches and mosques are open again. Only three people died of the virus and no-one in the country still has it. The lockdown there was called early, at the very first case, and enforced at gunpoint, so they have moved forward quickly now there are no cases of the virus.
I talked this week to a taxi driver in Bethlehem who told me that everything there is under control and he can work normally. But economically many people have lost work over the past three months, so there is a very great deal of poverty. So nothing changes.
No doubt, some children will not go to school next term unless the parents get some help with the cost of fees, which rises all the time. Pcdc is now saving for the day when we pay what we will be able, to support the poorer children. We have received some very generous donations, specifically to keep the poorest children safely in school when they re-open.
Three children are specifically on my mind as I write this: Muheeb, Nicola, and Binyamin. Please pray for them. Muheeb is 15 today. He is due to go into hospital in a few days’ time for surgery that he has been begging for for 8 years. He must get through the Wall to reach Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The gates must be open; the soldiers must allow him through. We have made the appointment for him, so they should allow him through. He was desolate when we saw him last year. Disconsolate. Broken. He thought he would never find the doctor who could heal him. He hardly smiled at all. Today he is longing for this surgery. We promised. Pray, please.
Nicola is a young adult now, at university. We have cared for him for 14 years since his Father died suddenly in the street. Life has always been a struggle for this family with six children. Pcdc has cared for each one. Nicola tried to make it to university and support himself, without relying on Pcdc. The university told us that he studies hard, and works whenever he can, in order to cover his fees and help his family. But there is not enough work and he has run into debt and reached out to us again. We will find a way forward, and we will stem the debt for now.
Binyamin suffers from a rare illness. He is 8 years old. The medicine he needs costs $4183 US for 3 months’ supply. That’s about £47 a day as he needs one and a half tablets daily. Tough when your parents are both without work and they are behind in the rent. There is no National Health Service in Palestine. We received a very generous donation to help him and a fellow charity offered to match it. The other charity is linked to the Caritas children’s hospital in Bethlehem who can supply this medicine to the child’s Mother.
Dear God I thank You for Your love for little children in the land of Jesus’ birth. Thank You for the people who help us to help them. Thanks for the love and the miracles we have witnessed and the lives changed. We do not understand You but we trust You.
I constantly remember that we were a very tiny charity when we began in 1996. We were two people. Since then we have grown to be 8 hard-working trustees. But then there is a wonderful number of supporters who keep us going. Many hundreds. I thank God for every one of you. None of this could be achieved without your amazing and generous support.
In 2017 when I was unable to travel to Bethlehem, a school asked us to help this little boy. The team accepted his needs and put him into the Pcdc family. His Daddy had just died. His Mummy was seriously ill. The team’s decision was right.
Last November I was well enough to return to Bethlehem with a good team of helpers. I called at one school: they asked if we still supported this child. I didn’t know him. I asked to see him.
They brought me a tiny boy and sat us in the busy school corridor to have a chat. Imagine that! A very small child sitting with a complete stranger, a foreigner at that! People buzzing past us. We tried to make conversation in Arabic in this unlikely place. (Dear God, I need a bit of help here).
Suddenly this little fringed child exploded into life! He told me he loved it at school. He was happy. His Mummy had something wrong. Every day she goes to hospital then comes home. He talked on and on. And on. My heart went out to him. He was so small. Somehow I understood.
The team decided we would find his Mummy that very day. We called her on the phone. She told us she was at that moment in the hospital but was about to come out. The hospital was walking distance from where we were. A few moments later we were with her. She told us she had kidney failure and went daily for dialysis. We went home with her.
The little boy ran to greet us and welcome us. Mum told us about the loss of her husband. She knew that someone was paying the little boy’s school fees but she never knew who it was. She thanked us. She has two other, older children. They made us very welcome. Thank God the team had decided to help this very needy, very poor family. I felt totally humbled. Honestly I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to serve the poor. I was so glad for the team who were with me. We are so grateful to you, who make it possible to stand by the poorest children.
As we left, Mum cut us some grapes off a vine growing outside her flat and gave them to us. I think of her often. I see her in my mind, yellow with kidney disease. (I understand that myself.)
Every year this child’s fees cost about £900, but we have managed to pay them in full since 2017. He is six years old now so we will be there for him for a long time yet.
I thank God for our fellow charities. We help each other. Charities like Embrace, Abraham’s Children in Crisis, and Friends of the Holy Land. Above all we thank Him for you all, for your constant and consistent love for children who touch our hearts. God bless each of you,