News from the Friends of the Holy Land (Dec 2022)

While Lego, Barbie and Playdoh are all tipped to top many children’s Christmas lists in the UK this year*, children in the West Bank have shared their hopes for an end to checkpoints, work for their parents and access to water and healthcare.

In a survey of the hopes and fears of 200 pupils at Christian schools in the West Bank, more than half (52%) said that travel restrictions were their biggest day-to-day challenge and over a quarter (27%) said they worried that their parents couldn’t find enough work to pay for their basic survival.

In the survey, conducted by UK-based charity, Friends of The Holy Land (FHL), almost a quarter of the children (23%) also said that not having running water all of the time was their biggest problem and 16% were aware that they couldn’t afford to see the doctor.

Now FHL is appealing to supporters to give a one-off Christmas gift to families such as theirs to help make wishes come true into 2023.

With images of the Holy Land often limited to 2,000 years ago, FHL has drawn together a 12 Days of Christmas countdown this December to offer an insight into the lives of those who live across the region today – and show how gifts are offering hope to Christians living in difficult circumstances in the West Bank, Jordan and Gaza.

FHL Executive Director, Brendan Metcalfe, said the results of the school survey had been sobering but not surprising.

He said: “The freedom to move around easily and the ability to access water and healthcare are things that we often take for granted in the UK, but are pressing issues even for young children in the West Bank and the wider region.

“One child from Bethlehem told us: ‘My Christmas wish is that the funny spirit and the spirit of childhood remain inside us and don’t go away because of the difficulties of life.’

“We are appealing to Christians to help grant the wishes of children and their families so that spirit of childhood can be less burdened. Throughout 2022 we have been able to alleviate hardship in ways such as providing new water tanks and paying medical bills and with the help of our supporters we look forward to being able to bring joy and relief to families in 2023.”

A donation of £25 could help grant a child’s wish to stay at their Christian primary school, £50 could help a parent see the doctor or dentist and £100 could help a family ensure more reliable running water.

Support the appeal

Photograph: Children at a Christian vocational school in Ramallah, West Bank

*See story in The Telegraph