Disciples Woman-to-Woman Worldwide Service Projects
The women who traveled to Israel and Palestine in 2008, along with Global Ministries Middle East and Europe Area Executive Peter Makari, selected two projects for Disciples Women’s groups to support.
The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has been a close partner of Global Ministries since its establishment. Headquartered in Beirut, the MECC plays an active role in conflict resolution, peace and community building, and bringing together Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches throughout the Middle East. MECC represents 90 percent of the indigenous Christians of the Middle East and is a fellowship of 27 member churches representing 12 to 15 million Christians from the Middle East and North Africa and from Algeria to Iran.
One of several programs administered by MECC is the Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR). Established in the early 1950’s DSPR was organized to aid Palestinian refugees with their newly acquired status following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. DSPR advocates for Palestinians and works to improve the quality of life for the innumerable Palestinians who live in the refugee camps in Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank, Galilee, and also in Jordan and Lebanon.
The DSPR aims at enabling people to organize their lives so that they can live with dignity in spite of the difficulties and constraints that seek to inhibit them from “normal” living. Over 70,000 Palestinians benefit from the health clinics in DSPR areas of operation, particularly in Gaza and Jordan.
The Woman-to-Woman Worldwide group shares in the concern of the effect this war will have on the psychological state of children in Gaza. There is a grave demand for social workers, psychological specialists, and other human resources in this particular field. The children of Gaza have been introduced to scenes of death and destruction, family loss, injuries, and a general climate of fear and confusion. The feeling of insecurity, especially when the parents seem unable to ease the fears of their children, may have a permanent effect on the development of children. The three clinics in Gaza do not have access to social workers on an ongoing basis so they are not readily available to those in need of counseling and therapy. If each clinic had a skilled and well-trained specialist, it would be very helpful, even if just for a period of six months after the violence stops. Previously, the clinics were working in association with other local institutions that specialize in psycho-social intervention and that offer lectures, trainings, and open sessions to the public; however, today there is a demand for specialists that can deal with individual concerns and problems on a daily basis.
In the words of Dr. Bernard Sabella, Director of the MECC Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees, “We stress the need for the refugees to live their lives with dignity and not to lose hope for a better and more peaceful time.”
Rawdat el Zuhur
Rawdat el-Zuhur (Arabic for “Garden of Flowers”) is a primary school for Palestinian children, both Christian and Muslim, in East Jerusalem. Established in 1952, it aims at bringing up a new generation that is aware of the principles of good citizenship, and concerned for the environment; capable of thinking creatively, and analyzing logically and critically, offering and accepting positive criticism, and excelling in performance; and equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to assume leadership in a democratic society which they would develop and preserve. It serves mainly the lower income community.
Rawdat el-Zuhur seeks to provide:
- A distinguished school providing quality educational services.
- A school that provides equitable opportunities for the children of Jerusalem and is characterized by its relationship with the society and parents.
- A school where research, reading, and use of modern technology and computers, form an essential component of the learning process, just as music, arts, and sports form an essential component of the extracurricular programs and activities.
- A school where teachers are able to deal with individual differences among students, and to provide a safe and innovative climate for students and children.
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