The majority of Christian Palestinians have been and continue to look to the tourism industry for employment. Many Christians work as guides for pilgrims or provide transportation and others are hotel managers or shop owners. There has always been a special connection that many pilgrims find upon meeting their brother Christians in the Holy Land in an atmosphere of service reminiscent of Christ serving his apostles.
The Holy Land suffers from many challenges from the current situation which has led to drastic numbers of unemployment stemming from a lack of tourism and pilgrims in the Holy Land. Currently, 70% of Palestinian Christians are Unemployed!
It is a constant goal of the Franciscans to provide opportunities to keep Christians employed. The Franciscan Press based at St. Savior’s Monastery in Jerusalem has been an avenue to provide some employment for the struggling Christians. The Franciscans continue to employ them at 70% of their wage even when there has been no work.
The housing projects funded by the generosity of donors through the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land have helped to curb unemployment. The Andon Construction Company, owned by Jack Andon, a Palestinian Christian in Bethlehem, employs Christian workers in the construction of these projects.
Production of olive wood products handmade in the Holy Land has drastically decreased. There has been very little work for over 3 years now.
Excerpts from “A Pilgrim’s Perspective” – a reflection by Lois Conwell:
“From the moment that we arrived, I was completely at ease. Whether it was the staff at the Christmas Hotel, or our guide, Fr. Adam Civu, we were always treated like family.
Everywhere we went, we were introduced to people simply as pilgrims from the U.S. We were showered with hugs, handshakes and blessings, and without exception, they all said, “Please, pray for us.” However, their stores and businesses are closed – due to a lack of business and tourism. Most of them, especially the Palestinian Christians, are just barely hanging on, with no support from the government.
These are a very strong, proud people, that don’t want handouts or charity but a chance to earn a living and remain in their homes. Yet for most, their livelihood depends on tourism -and there is so very little. How it broke my heart to see a priest begging outside his church or to hear an elderly man ask, “Why does your President support only Israel…can’t he see what is happening here!”
The situation is extreme and urgent! The Franciscans are doing everything they can to help the severe unemployment problem but they need help . . . your help!
You can reach out to these Palestinian Christians by helping the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land:
- fund new housing projects employing many Christians
- support the production of handmade olive wood products
- contacting us if there is anyone you may know or a contact that could help provide jobs for your brother and sister Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land
Click here to help or to learn more.