GAZA – Due to the last severe conflict in Gaza in July 2014, the school, parish and surrounding areas of the El Zaitun Latin compound sustained several damages as a result of the bombing of two neighboring houses.  Thanks to the help of generous donors and through the intense work of the Latin Patriarchate technical Team, works have started in the parish kindergarten and external playground areas.

The El Zaitun Latin Convent is composed of a Latin Patriarchate school with 300 students, a kindergarten for 50 children, the parish priest house and the Church of the Holy Family. There are also two Sisters’ communities within the premises who help in the parish activities.

The present situation of the Latin compound is very critical, especially in terms of infrastructure, safety and security. The recent conflicts, the local instability and security concerns, in addition to the lack of structural investment for many years, resulted in the serious deterioration of the place.

The Latin Patriarchate project and engineering departments have carefully developed a master plan for the compound:  in total 11 projects were elaborated.
The main objective is to find a more permanent solution for the entire compound, which has suffered in the last years, with severe corrosion of the components of the buildings, and also due to the wars and the lack of funding and investment in its infrastructure.

The needs are huge: Among them, a new solar energy system to allow the school and the compound to sustain its activities while the main electric power source is cut off, needs to be installed. Indeed, the school and the sisters’ communities depend highly on a stable energy for their daily activities, whereas the interruption of power supply is unfortunately something common in Gaza.

Works are principally aimed at Gaza’s children.
As for the LP Kindergarten facility, it is planned to be completely upgraded, both in terms of infrastructure and safety, and works have already started.
The works will also rehabilitate the parish multipurpose hall, which lacks in safety, equipment, maintenance and infrastructure. An external sports area for the school, with a basketball and football-shaded area will be implemented. The LP school buildings will be renovated and upgraded to reach the minimum standards of a high school with 12 grades.

As for the parish itself, the Holy Family Church as well as the parish priest house and the parish office, which suffered several structural damages during the last war in 2014, will be also rehabilitated.
Finally, the compound needs to be equipped for its safety and security, especially the surrounding wall, and the main courtyards need lighting and surveillance system.

The first project, concerning the parish kindergarten is now under process and works have started 2 weeks ago. This project is realized thanks to the generous support of the CRS (Catholic Relief Services).
A new external playground and recreational area for the children and parishioners is being built, with the valuable support of World Vision. In addition to the playground, they are also providing the parish with a new generator.

Funds have been found for almost all those projects, only three projects are still looking for financing: the safety and security project for the compound, the rehabilitation of Latin schools facilities, and the rehabilitation of youth community service hall and offices.

This project as a whole will directly benefit around 1,300 Christian residents of Gaza, and has been executed thanks to the generous help of partner institutions, governments and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. Works are expected to be completed during 2016.