International Disability Day at Our Lady of Peace Center, Amman

AMMAN – The World Day for people with disabilities was held at the Our Lady of Peace Center, welcomed and supported by a large gathering of their families and friends.

On December 4, Our Lady of Peace Center hosted the World Disability Day, sponsored by Prince Mired bin Ra’ad. The day was attended by the families of the Center’s children, who came to mark the event. The families were able to participate in activities organized by the children and their teachers. Candied olives, prepared with care by guests of the center, were sold.

The day, familial and cordial, also had additional help from SAI’s students and those of the Rosary Sisters’, two Christian schools in Amman, who regularly send their student volunteers to visit with the young children of the Center. Performances by clowns brought delight to the children.

Attending the World Disability Day were Patriarch Emeritus Fouad Twal; Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan; Bishop Selim Sayegh, Founder of the Center of Our Lady of Peace, and Fr. Shawki Baterian, the Director of the Center. Also present was the President of the Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities, Prince Mired.

In his speech, Prince Mired thanked the staff of the Center for the quality of care for disabled children, care that is offered free of charge to all these usually needy families. He encouraged the continuation of the quality work carried out so far. The Prince also referred to the law, recently approved by Parliament, which came into force on September 1, which aims to combat discrimination against people with disabilities and to concretely strengthen their rights by providing easier access to education, health, tourism and employment, which in some cases also includes tax exemptions. More generally, this law – the first to take seriously the problem of disability in Jordan – aims to promote disability issues related to a better integration of people with disabilities present in Jordanian society, where daily life remains precarious and their condition unknown.

Remy Brun

If you wish to support the work of the Our Lady of Peace Center on behalf of the neediest families of handicapped children, it is possible to visit the Center’s website here: Our Lady of Peace Center

Coordinating Catholic Aid Organizations meet with Christian Youth and Christian institutions in Gaza

GAZA – For their 2nd meeting since 2014, four members of the Coordinating Catholic Aid Organizations (CCAO) met with the Christian Youth in Gaza on Tuesday, November 21, 2017. The meeting was an occasion for the youth, aged 18- 35, to talk about their ambitions and needs as well as their daily struggles in the Strip.

The four members of the CCAO; the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Catholic Relief Services, the Pontifical Mission and Caritas Jerusalem, held their meeting with the youth at the Holy Family Parish, three years after their last visit.

“During the meeting, we worked with the Christian youth to come up with suggestions to meet and fulfill their needs”, said Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive Officer of the Latin Patriarchate. “Some of these suggestions included the creation of job opportunities, housing support and educational support through scholarships.”

Unemployment in the Gaza Strip, which is the highest in Palestine, is one of the problems facing the youth sector. According to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among the youth aged 20-24 in Gaza reached 44.3% in the first quarter of 2017.

“Not being able to find a job is causing frustration and depression for them, not to mention the blockade they are living. In spite of the recent Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, these young people expressed little hope that this agreement would improve the quality of life in Gaza,” said Mr. El-Yousef.

One of the projects that The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Holy Family Parish priest, Fr. Mario da Silva, are implementing in the Strip is the creation of job opportunities. “At the moment, there are sixteen young people who work at four Catholic institutions that the CCAO is supporting,” said Mr. El-Yousef. “It’s a good way for them to gain experience.”

Furthermore, the Latin Patriarchate implements pastoral projects there such as­ scouts programs and summer camps.

The visit of the CCAO also included the meeting with the directors of four Christian institutions; Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, the Near East Council of Churches, the YMCA and three Christians Schools.

Saher Kawas