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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.