Friends of the Holy Land Appeal
Thank-you Fr Francis. Good Morning everyone.
I would like to take a few moments of your time to tell you a little more about the Friends of the Holy Land, who we are supporting through our crib appeal again this year.
The Friends of the Holy Land is a non-political, Christian charity with a mission to secure a resilient and enduring Christian community in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan. In the early 20th Century, over 29% of the population of Holy Land was Christian, now that is less than 2%. Without support, the holy places of the Bible could become cultural museums and curiosities with no Christian presence at all.
The Friends of the Holy Land give direct support to the needy and most vulnerable of our Christian brothers and sisters through a balance of funding, relief for emergency needs and practical small projects and most importantly of all, Hope.
Each year the Friends help over 2000 named Christians, improving their lives in the key areas of education, employment, health and through housing improvements. So far, with the help of supporters, the Friends have raised over £4.5 million since their foundation in 2009. This has provided 80 families with monthly income support, 400 families with special one-off payments, 40 elderly ladies to receive day care, 2 summer schools, 192 ad hoc medical grants as well as start-up payments for Christian Iraqi refugees and student funding.
However, the vast majority of the Friends income comes through Pilgrimages, as does the income for those they support in the Holy Land, with over 80% of those living in Bethlehem for example employed either directly or indirectly in tourism and hospitality. Since the outbreak of Covid in 2019, the Holy Land has effectively been cut off with those in the area have been left with no way to earn a living for almost 2 years. While the Israeli and Jordanian Governments did allow pilgrimages to resume in September of this year, they have been closed again with the measures taken to contain the Omicron variant. As a result, with little or no state-funded income support and no health care provision, those living in the area are in desperate need.
The Friends of the Holy Land are doing all that they can to help but need our generosity to provide the funds to be able to continue that assistance in these difficult times.
I know that Christmas is an expensive time for us all and the last 21 months has been particularly difficult, but please, give as generously as you can this year.
Thank-you for listening, God Bless you all.
Andrew Collins (Diaconate Student)