(ATS) Maurizio and Valentina wanted their wedding to be a donation for those who need it most. They got married by the Franciscan friars in front of a big crowd,and they asked their guests to show generosity in order to share providence with those most in need. That’s why they chose to create a very special wedding list: last April they collected the gifts given by friends and family and headed for the Holy Land. They had already been there before, but this time they went there, not just to pray, but mainly to share their time with the living stones of this land.
A month after their trip, and thanks to their special donations, the Association pro Terra Sancta has finished three projects involved in three different and important realities in Bethlehem: the kindergarten of the Franciscan nuns at the Aida refugee camp, the shelter home for disabled children Hogar Niño Dios, and the day centre for elderly people of the Antonian Society.
The kindergarten inside the Aida refugee camp accommodates both children who live inside the camp and children who arrive from Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and Doha, places near Bethlehem. The situation inside the camp is very complicated and the children often live in very poor and problematic families. Therefore, the Franciscan nuns have created a little oasis in which the little ones can play, be together and grow up in a calm environment. Thanks to Maurizio and Valentina’s donation, the nuns in the kindergarten have managed to buy different games: a slide for the garden, a little house and pools full of balls for the indoor playroom. Despite the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank being just opposite the enclosure of the kindergarten, the children seem not to realise, and get very excited about the good weather and the new games.
At the Hogar Niño Dios, essential goods are usually what is needed. The shelter accommodates twenty-four children with different disabilities and the nuns who manage the house have decided to use all the money received to purchase clothes, medicines, food and notepads.
Lastly, the part of the donation, which went to the Antonian Charitable Society, has been used to build a platform that helps the elderly people who use wheelchairs to go up and down the stairs in order to participate in the activities held three times a week at the day centre. Furthermore, in view of the arrival of good weather, we have thought about getting outdoor tables and chairs to allow the users of the centre to sit outside in the open air and carry out their activities in the garden and at the veranda.
The decision to support the above operations fits with the desire to help the most vulnerable. In the complex context of the Palestinian territories, where the population lives in a state of everlasting tension, it is key to care for the elderly, who represent the past and the traditions of this place, and guarantee training and education for young people, who represent the biggest hope for a future of change. The donation that Maurizio and Valentina have made to the shelter, the Hogar and the Day Centre of the Antonian Society represents a very special and unforgettable gift, for which we can only be grateful, but what is even more special is the fact that they wanted to meet first-hand the children and elderly people of a city of Bethlehem that too often keeps being forgotten.
Maurizio and Valentina, with their choice, have not only had a gesture of solidarity towards those that are most needful, but they have also made a strong statement of closeness and encouragement to those who work on the field, both members and non members of religious orders, who everyday fight the challenges of a mission in a land that is desperately looking for peace and hope.
You, too, can help the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land to support the work of fourteen charitable projects carried out in the Holy Land.
Not only can you help us, but we can also help you by organizing a destination wedding pilgrimage for you and your family. You can be married in the land of Jesus Christ our Lord, visit the sacred sites and also get to know these projects, so that you can see first-hand the problems and needs of this land.
Contact us at [email protected] or visit our website at Franciscan Holy Land Pilgrimages to learn more.