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West Bank Families Need More Support

West Bank Families Need More Support

NOTE: This is a guest post by Mohammed Abu Rajab, ANERA Area Director, Hebron

I have worked for eight years in ANERA’s Hebron office as an engineer and area manager for the southern West Bank. My work often brings me to Bethlehem, a sacred and special place to many, but one that faces formidable challenges. Families are struggling. The Separation Wall has cut off the city from the surrounding areas. Tourism is down. The economy is failing and those who can afford it move away, which only makes matters worse.

As a sign of just how bad things have become, the city struggled to light its Christmas tree this year due to lack of funds.

Bethlehem also suffers from terrible water shortages – probably the worst in the Palestinian Territories, along with Hebron. In Bethlehem, the average person has access to 30-40 liters per day, far less than the World Health Organization’s standard of 150 liters per capita per day necessary for a healthy life.

Still, I am inspired constantly by the people I have come to know through my work in Bethlehem. They are not suffering because they do not have the capacity to succeed, but because of a political situation that is beyond their control. I ask myself every day how ANERA can help them with the things we CAN control in order to make their lives better.

It is gratifying to be able to point to years of ANERA’s accomplishments: the multitude of schools that we have renovated or built; the recent renovations and upgrades to the Beit Jala Hospital, which 170,000 people rely on for medical care; the hundreds of families in the Dar Salah area who are now connected to a network that brings water to their homes. Many of the projects have been funded by Grants from the US Agency for International Development.

But, there is much more that can be done with private donations. I see many dilapidated schools that need vital upgrades to their facilities or equipment like computers. There is an urgent need for water collection cisterns so more families can collect precious water during the rainy season. There is also unused land around the city that could be converted to home gardens, providing families with food and a supplement to their income.

Recently, I visited a school where the students have been studying in dungeon-like conditions in a basement. ANERA is building an additional eight classrooms so those students can enjoy naturally lit classrooms and fresh air. This is a school where Christian and Muslim children study and play together every day. These children are a model for us all and they deserve every opportunity for a bright future.

ABOUT ANERA: For more than 40 years, ANERA has been a leading provider of development, health, education and employment programs to Palestinian communities and impoverished families throughout the Middle East. In FY 2009, the relief and development agency delivered more than $50 million of programs to the people of the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan.

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Photo courtesy of ANERA

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48 comments

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3:00AM PST on Jan 27, 2011

Very interesting comments . . . thought provoking.

1:28PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Thank You.

8:45AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

In my lifetime I have seen leaders focus so much attention on this, w so many good compromises offered, all turned down by Islamic leaders. There are fundamental problems w Islamic religion, which allows violence + refutation of the rights of people. They took over the holiest places in Israel, claimed certain teachings of Judeo-Christian as their own, added in a sprinkling of KILLING INFIDELS in the name of Allah, women & children oppressed by men, etc. Muhammad died 150 years before men wrote down any words at all having to do with his life. Muhammad has quite a few questionable deeds attributed to him that are not at all the sign of a Spiritual Adept. As a warrior, it is claimed that he sent out runners to ask of various people if they believed in the one true god, & if those who were being questioned did not understand what the runner was doing there, being occupied with their own set of circumstances to deal with, Muhammad would send back men to behead/massacre entire communities, take over holy sites, etc. Whoever is sane will find this questionable. A belief that the "Word" is holy is misguided. Written words are NOT holy. There is an inner "Word" which all spiritual adepts know of, & which they initiate evolved souls into for meditation. This has never been a "Religion". Combining religion, which is in mind only, (no spiritual insight or experiential knowledge at all) w government + arms is a lethal & stupid combination. Romans are guilty of same 2K

12:49AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Noted and signed!!

9:18AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

The directors of the UNRWA in Gaza and the West Bank, John Ging and Barbara Shenstone, have both quit their jobs. Neither gave an explanation.

"Barbara and John have made exceptional contributions to UNRWA's work under the most difficult circumstances: their commitment to ensuring the quality of UNRWA services has been extraordinary," Grandi added.

John Ging, director of the UNRWA operation in Gaza since February 2006, found himself caught in the dilemma of defending the legitimacy of his employees - many of whom have connections with terrorist entities - and warning those same employees to maintain neutrality while on the job.

It was a difficult balancing act, especially when Hamas police raided a UNRWA warehouse, stealing thousands of blankets and food parcels intended for the region's poor. He has in the past been the target of recriminations by the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza as well.

Ging also has been the target of several assassination attempts over the past year. In November, Israel allowed U.N. Security personnel in the region to arm themselves with four German-made submachine guns to fend off terrorists who have repeated tried to murder Ging.

Shenstone reportedly refused to negotiate with UNRWA workers during a strike a few months ago that shut down services in the region. According to Ma'an, she had described workers' demands at the time as "absurd," and refused to discuss paying "wages they didn't receive the last time they went on strike…

6:25AM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Bethlehem and Hebron are under the government of the Palestinian Authority (PA) many of these problems should be resolved by them.
If the Arabs would stop sending suicide bombers to Israel there would be no need for the Separation Wall they have brought this upon themselves. The wall only separates Bethlehem in the north and west there is full access to the west and south the rest of the West Bank. It is like saying New York City is cut off from the surrounding area by the Atlantic Ocean..
Bethlehem doesn’t have money to light the Christmas tree because most Christians have fled the city because of Muslim persecution.

Bethlehem also suffers from terrible water shortages - probably the worst in the Palestinian Territories, along with Hebron. In Bethlehem, the average person has access to 30-40 liters per day, far less than the World Health Organization's standard of 150 liters per capita per day necessary for a healthy life.
How much water is available to a person in Ammon or Jeddah? If people are leaving Bethlehem then there should be more water available. What is PA doing to get more water? Israel is building desalination plants. The PA do its responsibility and take care of its citizen instead of trying to take over Israel.

The people have brought about the political situation upon themselves they have elections. They voted for the people who should but do not take care of their needs.
Why do they need the services of ANERA the renovation and building of

6:24AM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Bethlehem and Hebron are under the government of the Palestinian Authority (PA) many of these problems should be resolved by them.
If the Arabs would stop sending suicide bombers to Israel there would be no need for the Separation Wall they have brought this upon themselves. The wall only separates Bethlehem in the north and west there is full access to the west and south the rest of the West Bank. It is like saying New York City is cut off from the surrounding area by the Atlantic Ocean..
Bethlehem doesn’t have money to light the Christmas tree because most Christians have fled the city because of Muslim persecution.

Bethlehem also suffers from terrible water shortages - probably the worst in the Palestinian Territories, along with Hebron. In Bethlehem, the average person has access to 30-40 liters per day, far less than the World Health Organization's standard of 150 liters per capita per day necessary for a healthy life.
How much water is available to a person in Ammon or Jeddah? If people are leaving Bethlehem then there should be more water available. What is PA doing to get more water? Israel is building desalination plants. The PA do its responsibility and take care of its citizen instead of trying to take over Israel.

The people have brought about the political situation upon themselves they have elections. They voted for the people who should but do not take care of their needs.
Why do they need the services of ANERA the renovation and building of

6:24AM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Bethlehem and Hebron are under the government of the Palestinian Authority (PA) many of these problems should be resolved by them.
If the Arabs would stop sending suicide bombers to Israel there would be no need for the Separation Wall they have brought this upon themselves. The wall only separates Bethlehem in the north and west there is full access to the west and south the rest of the West Bank. It is like saying New York City is cut off from the surrounding area by the Atlantic Ocean..
Bethlehem doesn’t have money to light the Christmas tree because most Christians have fled the city because of Muslim persecution.

Bethlehem also suffers from terrible water shortages - probably the worst in the Palestinian Territories, along with Hebron. In Bethlehem, the average person has access to 30-40 liters per day, far less than the World Health Organization's standard of 150 liters per capita per day necessary for a healthy life.
How much water is available to a person in Ammon or Jeddah? If people are leaving Bethlehem then there should be more water available. What is PA doing to get more water? Israel is building desalination plants. The PA do its responsibility and take care of its citizen instead of trying to take over Israel.

The people have brought about the political situation upon themselves they have elections. They voted for the people who should but do not take care of their needs.
Why do they need the services of ANERA the renovation and building of

5:36AM PST on Jan 13, 2011

What does Israel have to do with this? There is no mention of Israel in this article. Bethlehem and Hebron are under Palestinian Authority (PA) control. This entire problem is caused by the Palestinian government not Israel. It is amazing the prejudice of many of my fellow letter writers who are blaming Israel for the problems depict in this story even though Israel is not mentioned even once. The author of the article did not mention how since they took over Bethlehem its Christian population has dropped from 40% to 10% because of PA persecution. The author doesn't say the reason people are leaving. It is the Christians and there poor treatment by the Muslims. He also doesn't mention how hatred of Israel and the Jews are taught in the West Bank schools through there text books paid for by the UN. How come these schools weren't repaired when the West Bank was occupied by Jordon and how come you did not complain about it then? Ever since Israel recovered the West Bank economic conditions for the Arabs in these lands have improved drastically. With the help of G-d Israel has a better economy than Jordan and Egypt and this has helped the Arabs in the recovered lands greatly economically. In fact if the Arab countries of the Middle East would make real peace with Israel the economic boom would be amazing. Oh Arab, listen to your great prophet Muhammad. He said the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews. Surly it is Allah’s will that Israel should exist for the Arab countries ar

3:15PM PST on Jan 12, 2011

Noted...

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