HOLY LAND/ Bethlehem: Help for the Little Ones
“He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us. In this way God teaches us to love the little ones. In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children. The Child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all, particularly towards children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn.”
Pope Benedict XVI
Following the words of the Pope, Help for the Little Ones is a project to promote the personal and social growth of needy children and youth. The complex political and economic situation strikes hard at the many children and adolescents who do not receive an adequate education. Many of them have troubles at school due to violent and extremely difficult family situations. In many of these families, the parents have no income and are burdened with many grave problems.
In the territory of the Palestinian Authority there is no public medical assistance. The family, which does not receive any help other than from the parish, has to find the way to take care of all types of illness. If serious illness strikes (leukemia, tumors, kidney surgery or dialysis), the parish priest verifies the gravity and urgency of the need and seeks financial aid from the Custody of the Holy Land and private donors locally and internationally.
The objective of Help for the Little Ones is to support the most fragile of the “living stones”, needy children, in this very special part of the Holy Land, where God himself became a child. The funds raised will be used to support the education of the neediest children and those with learning problems, in addition to providing them with essential medical care.
The project is being promoted by the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, who have been protecting and bringing life to the Holy Places in the Holy Land for over seven centuries, most significantly at the Basilicas of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Annunciation in Nazareth. The Franciscan presence in the Holy Land goes back to the very origins of the Order of Friars Minor.
In addition to the pastoral apostolate, the Custody has many social ministries: primary and secondary schools, university tuition grants, housing renovation, rent subsidies for families, student residences, small craftsman subventions, old age homes, after-school activities, women’s workshops, summer camps, outpatient clinics, financing of hospital treatment.