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December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
20 April 2012
Molly Corso

Girls practice English at a Caritas day care center in Tbilisi. (photo: Molly Corso)

Photojournalist Molly Corso lives and works in Tbilisi.

Regardless of whom I spoke with during my reporting on vulnerable children in Georgia, the refrain was always the same: charity is moving from food to skills, from heat to culture.

A not-so-subtle shift is underway in Tbilisi and other cities throughout the country, and charities — accustomed to being forced to fill in the gaps where government resources have fell short — are pushing it forward.

With the government footing the bill for better buildings, warmer rooms and more nutritious meals, charities and non-government organizations are refocusing from struggling to provide bread for hungry children to nurturing minds thirsty for new information.

The change — from substance and survival to skills and development — has not happened overnight. But it is happening, and it is opening a new opportunity for a very small country to reclaim its poorest, most disfranchised citizens.

For nearly two decades, Georgia was unable to take care of her own, unable to pass even the basic test of providing food and warmth to the youngest and weakest of the population. But as the state has built the roads, fixed the lights and turned on the heat, the government has also started looking in. The hesitant trickle of money and resources that once went to social programs like orphanages has turned into a stream of new programs, projects and initiatives.

So from the Georgian Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church, the youth houses to the day centers, children who were left with nothing are receiving more than just hot soup and a serving of vegetables. They are learning to use the computer, speak English and master marketable skills like carpentry, folk arts and plumbing.

Today there is a glimmer of hope.

There are art therapy programs to help unravel the web of abuse and neglect that had trapped young lives. And there are psychology courses to address addiction.

But even more than that, there is an effort to help children discover talents and passions that can aid them in their struggle to crack the cage of poverty that has stopped their parents and other family members from moving forward.

A giggle in the dance class. A frown of concentration in the computer clinic. A proud glance at a newly woven carpet. A thousand small, silent signals that Georgians — even the most vulnerable among them — are starting to move up.

You can read more about church-run programs helping the children of Georgia in the March issue of ONE.

Tags: Georgia Orphans/Orphanages

20 April 2012
Greg Kandra

This image from 2007 shows how Eucharist and study are central in the lives of Coptic Catholic seminarians at St. Leo the Great, located in a Cairo suburb. (photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)

Latest reports indicate that Egypt continues to be rocked by political turmoil and protest:

Tens of thousands of protesters packed Cairo’s downtown Tahrir Square on Friday in the biggest demonstration in months against the ruling military, aimed at stepping up pressure on the generals to hand over power to civilians and bar ex-regime members from running in upcoming presidential elections.

We’ve reported extensively on the lives of Christians in that corner of the world. In 2007, the magazine profiled the Coptic Catholic Church, beginning with its very deep roots:

Egyptian Christians — known as Copts, a derivative of the Greek word Aigyptios, meaning Egyptian — are proud of their ancient roots. They received the Gospel from St. Mark the Evangelist, who brought the faith to the city of Alexandria, second only to Rome in the ancient Mediterranean world. There, he died a martyr’s death around the year 67.

The evangelist extended his apostolic activity beyond the city’s prosperous Jewish community. He called for the city’s Copts and Greeks to adopt “the way,” the early Christian description for discipleship in Jesus Christ.

Mark sowed the Christian seed on fertile ground. Centuries before the Arab advent in the eastern Mediterranean, and with it the rise of Islam, Egyptian Christianity blossomed. It provided the church with the philosophical foundation and theological vocabulary responsible for its explosive expansion in the Greco-Roman world, introduced the cenobitic and hermitic variants of monastic life and peopled the universal church with some of its greatest saints and scholars, including Pantaenus, Clement, Origen, Anthony, Macarius, Didymus, Athanasius, Arius, Cyril and Dioscorus.

Read more.

Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Africa

19 April 2012
John E. Kozar

Students play outside of a Catholic school in Emdibir, Ethiopia. (photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)

Welcome to Ethiopia! Thank you for joining me on this pastoral visit, which includes Thomas Varghese of our New York office. This is my first visit, so we will all be seeing Ethiopia through the eyes of a first-timer.

After a late night arrival in Addis Ababa, a very warm welcome by our host for the entire pastoral visit — Gerry Jones, who directs our office here — and a brief sleep, we scheduled our first visits with the Catholic archbishop of Addis Ababa and the papal nuncio. Our thought was that these visits would be a sort of tutorial on the realities of the church in Ethiopia. It turned out to be a most worthwhile 101 course on the Ethiopian people, their history and the political challenges that confront the church here.

Metropolitan Archbishop Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel, C.M., who leads the Ge’ez Catholic Church, is a most engaging figure. He offered a wonderful introduction into the Ethiopian landscape and how this Catholic Eastern church navigates as a very small minority player. Out of a population of more than 80 million, the Catholic Church represents only 0.75 percent of the population. Of this small number of about 600,000 faithful, Ge’ez Catholics in Ethiopia number only about a 100,000 people and are scattered in three eparchies — most Catholics live in the south of the country and utilize the Latin rite. (Some 153,000 Ge’ez Catholics live in Eritrea, Ethiopia’s neighbor to the north.)

Historically, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (the rites and traditions of which are shared with Ge’ez Catholics) accounts for about half of the Ethiopian population. But evangelical Protestants are making significant inroads among Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians; their numbers have tripled in the last 15 years and now account for about 17 percent of the population. Muslims make up about a 30 percent. So, the Catholic Church here is extremely small.

But what the Catholic Church lacks in numbers it more than makes up in terms of social service outreach. Hundreds of Catholic schools — which are open to Catholic, Orthodox and Muslims students — are found everywhere and contribute greatly to the moral fiber and educational achievements of this great country. Although the Catholic Church (Latin and Ge’ez) is not formally recognized by the government as a religious entity, it nonetheless receives great respect at every level. The government has donated land to the church to open schools, clinics and hospitals, and contributes to the salaries of teachers.

A second phase of my tutorial on realities confronting the life of the church in Ethiopia took us to the apostolic nunciature for a lovely visit with the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop George Panikulam. The nuncio is a very amiable gentleman, who is known for his openness and honesty. He shared with us some very interesting insights and never dodged any of the many questions I posed to him. And the best part of the visit was a delightful meal, in part prepared by him. I later heard that he regularly invites guests for dinner, which he personally prepares.

Before we headed out to the rural parts of the country, we visited the offices of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, where the secretary general, Abba (Father) Hagos Hayish, O.F.M. Cap., warmly greeted us and introduced us to many of his collaborators. This body represents the seven Latin vicariates — or prefectures apostolic — and the three Ge’ez Catholic eparchies in the country, and works with the bishops in effecting pastoral and social development programs.

We drove about three hours to the village of Welkite, where we were warmly welcomed by the bishop of the Ge’ez Catholic Eparchy of Emdibir, Abune Musie Ghebreghiorghis, O.F.M., Cap. Along with Abba Teshome Fikre, the eparchy’s secretary general and our guide in travel there, the bishop first showed us the new parish church now under construction. Also welcoming us were members of the parish committee who proudly took us on a tour.

Before arriving in Emdibir, we made a side visit to the Attat Hospital, which is located in the middle of nowhere. If not for the international team of sisters who staff the facility, there would be no healthcare available for the folks who receive treatment there. They come on donkey, carried on horseback, some in dilapidated public transport vehicles — but they come in great numbers to this refuge, where they receive attentive care. The sisters present a most loving image of Christ to all who come.

After a very long day, and in full darkness, we arrived at the diocesan guest house, which also seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. But, it turned out to be a most welcoming site for a nourishing meal and a restful night of sleep. As a surprise, the good bishop had invited all the diocesan clergy (19 in all) and two foreign religious priests to join us for a lovely dinner and some exchange about the eparchy of Emdibir, which was only established in 2003. I was much taken that all the priests were on hand for this most fraternal sharing.

My first exposure to the rich Ge’ez Rite would come at an early morning Divine Liturgy the following morning at St. Anthony of Padua Cathedral. The bishop and most of the eparchy’s priests concelebrated the ancient liturgy. I was taken aback by the beauty of the liturgy, the amazing intricacy of the chanting, not just of the bishop and the priests, but all the many faithful who had assembled as well. The cathedral had a large of number of people for this ordinary weekday eucharistic liturgy, celebrated at 6:20 a.m. All of the faithful are farmers and some regularly walk great distances to attend.

Another impressive aspect of the cathedral is the outstanding paintings that adorn most of the walls. These are works of art in progress, as the bishop has commissioned an 80-year-old Orthodox priest-iconographer to paint the cathedral murals. After four years of labor, I would say this venerable priest is about 80 percent finished. He lives with the bishop and two other Catholic priests assigned there, together sharing their lives, meals and prayers. I had the honor to meet this outstanding artist and thanked him for his great gift.

Our next visit took us to the Meganese Catholic School, directed by the Capuchin Fathers. Talk about a welcome! Some 1,000 children encircled us, chanting happily and raising high their palm branches. Even the bishop was startled at this reception. The children were so warm and welcoming and responded to my every word and gesture.

The very large campus also includes a health clinic, agricultural components and other programs. We were accompanied by members of the parents association and community elders. Their enthusiasm for the school is obvious and they work hand in hand with the Capuchin Fathers on its administration.

I very much enjoyed the visit to the health clinic, which is immaculately clean and a reflection of the good order and management of the two European sisters who staff it. They are particularly proud of their birthing suite and hope someday to be able to perform simple surgeries at this facility. They are also very happy about recently purchasing a brand-spanking-new ambulance that will especially help them attend to the needs of women in labor.

Our next stop took us to Bhurat and a visit to the Bhurat Catholic School. Here, too, we were warmly and wildly greeted by the students, complete with welcoming signs with the name of CNEWA prominently featured and displayed on poles and carried on banners. Our first point of business was to “cut the ribbon” for an extension wing built on to the existing school, a gift from a most generous CNEWA donor. It was a special honor for me to inaugurate this new wing.

The real feature of our visit was a formal program, complete with an elevated stage set up outdoors with a large stand of huge trees as a backdrop. Hundreds of parents, community elders and, of course, children, were all in attendance and offered their expressions of thanks to CNEWA. Even some government officials honored us with their presence.

We were entertained by singers, dancers, acrobats and speakers who included the school administrator, the school director (a Capuchin father), a representative from the elders of the community and the bishop. The program also included the presentation of some special gifts to each of us, including Thomas and Gerry. What impressed me most was the wonderful level of collaboration with school parents (Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics), community elders representing a large number of rural communities and government education officials who gave public testimony to the immense benefit of Catholic schools in this area. The bishop gave some beautiful remarks that reminded all that it is only God who has made and continues to make all of this possible. What a profound summary of how the church invites everyone to come to know the goodness of God, no matter what faith tradition we espouse.

Another very inspiring experience on this day was a brief visit to a class being given to catechists, as part of their continuing education and formation program. And to me an amazing part of their story is that each of them has been chosen for this most important role by their respective communities. They must be men and women of great faith, willing to share their faith with others as catechists.

The big campus at Bhurat also includes a health clinic. Two sisters from India run it and do a superb job in offering first-rate healthcare in an environment of loving kindness. We ended our visit with a marvelous meal, which included the ritual roasting of coffee beans and serving of rich Ethiopian coffee. With us for the entire visit to this site were the elders, almost serving as our security team and “honor guard.” In fact, the honor was all ours.

At the end of this very full and tiring day, the bishop had yet another surprise for us: a barbecue, Ethiopian style, in front of his residence. It was a delightful meal with many tasty dishes and the camaraderie of the bishop and a number of his diocesan priests. We said our goodbyes to all, as we would be departing very early in the morning for Meki, more than three hours away — if the rains do not play havoc with the roads.

Your ears should be ringing as so many of your family friends here extend their loving best wishes and thanks to you, the CNEWA family. God bless all of you. As one of the community elders said to me as he hugged me and wished me farewell: “I love you and all the people of America.”

Tags: Ethiopia Education Msgr. John E. Kozar Ethiopian Orthodox Church Ethiopian Catholic Church

19 April 2012
Erin Edwards

A mother and child visit the site where their new home will be built in the village of Podiyattuvila, Kerala. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Last month, CNEWA president Msgr. John Kozar visited with some of the people and projects that CNEWA supports in India. Among those he met were the people of the village of Podiyattuvila, who were on the path to home ownership for the first time. Msgr. Kozar writes about his experience in the most recent issue of ONE:

It is with a sense of gratitude that she invited me to see what was, block by block and bucket by bucket of cement, becoming her home. She, her husband and neighboring helpers and parishioners are the contractors and builders. A humble gift of $1,800 made all this possible. CNEWA is assisting in building five such houses.

Your charity as a donor allows CNEWA to bring such dignity to countless suffering poor in India and many other countries. And perhaps the greatest expression of gratitude from the poor, besides the smiles and the obvious quiet pride, is the promise of prayers.

Read more about Msgr. Kozar’s experiences in India in the magazine and on the blog.

Tags: India CNEWA Kerala Homes/housing

19 April 2012
Fares Akram

A Palestinian doctor examines a child at the N.E.C.C. Mother and Child Clinic in Gaza City.
(photo: Eman Mohammed)

Fares Akram is a journalist based in Gaza.

Two weeks before my wife, Alaa, delivered our second baby, I was at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, preparing to interview its directors and staff for the ONE magazine article that features the role of Christian organizations and institutions in serving the poor of the Gaza Strip.

Having seen how tranquil the hospital is, with its unique services and peaceful garden, I thought of bringing my wife to deliver in that hospital. And yes, this plan worked out; it was there that our daughter, Celine, saw the light by Caesarean section. Alaa said that she most liked the way in which nurses treated her and how skillful the surgeon was.

Church-affiliated organizations and centers offer a wide set of services in Gaza, the coastal enclave controlled by the Islamic Hamas movement. However, these services are not widely renowned, and the reason could be lack of proper promotion.

But having been through many of these institutions, I have seen and experienced the unique services they represent, from vocational training centers to hospitals and clinics.

These organizations demonstrate great determination by continuing to work in such hard circumstances, challenging Israeli restrictions on Gaza, lack of sufficient funding and operating under the Hamas government.

In Gaza, there are many charities and NGOs to help people, especially after the 2007 siege increased levels of poverty and hardship, but the Christian charities are much older and offer services that address the essential needs of the people. Only the Mother and Child Clinic, run by The Near East Council of Churches (N.E.C.C.), provides post-natal care for both mother and child.

During my reporting, I had come to see a mosque and a church embracing each other. It's even not easy to distinguish between the two structures. The church also hosts Myrrh Bearers Society of the Orthodox Church, the decade-old charity that struggles to achieve its goals despite low levels of support.

To read more of Mr. Akram's reporting on church-affiliated institutions in Gaza, see Behind the Blockade, from the March 2012 issue of ONE magazine.

Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Holy Land Health Care

18 April 2012
Greg Kandra

Markian Surmach, owner of Surma in New York City, shows off some of the store’s pysanky. (photo: Erin Edwards)

We’re still in the Easter season, so how about some eggs?

We showcase some of the remarkable and intricate designs of psyanky — traditionally decorated chicken or goose eggs — in the March issue of ONE:

“Things have certainly changed, but this store remains the same,” says Markian Surmach, the owner of Surma — a family-run shop in the heart of New York City’s historic Ukrainian neighborhood on the Lower East Side. “Just look at it,” he says, pointing to Taras Schevchenko Place across the street, where the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art recently built a state-of-the-art facility. The steel-and-glass building occupies the full length of the city block, casting a long shadow over Surma’s modest storefront in a prewar walk-up building.

For nearly a century, Surma has served the city’s Ukrainian community, selling products from the homeland, such as traditional embroidered clothes and accessories, artwork, antiques and Ukrainian-language book and newspapers.

“They find their culture, and they find themselves here,” says Mr. Surmach. “People come to the store in search of a simpler and less complicated way of life.”

Before getting lost in Surma’s labyrinth of authentic Ukrainian treasures, patrons pass by a small glass showcase near the entrance. Inside, dozens of pysanky, or traditionally decorated chicken and goose eggs, shimmer on display. Radiant red, yellow and orange eggs intersperse with others dyed cooler hues of blue, green and violet. Intricate Christian and ancient pagan symbols adorn the surfaces.

As with most Slavs of Eastern Europe — Croats, Czechs, Poles, Rusyns and Slovaks — Ukrainians have cultivated the art of egg decoration to commemorate Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

However, pysanky are also an intricate string in the collective fabric of Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian descent around the world. The designs serve as a living record and reminder of a shared, idyllic agrarian past.

“They’re not just eggs,” explains Mr. Surmach. “They have meaning. They represent a culture that respected the world around them.”

Read more here.

Tags: Ukraine Eastern Europe Easter

18 April 2012
Greg Kandra

This week, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications is sponsoring a seminar in Harissa, just north of Beirut, for bishops in the Middle East to look at how the church communicates in the region.

Vatican Radio has details:

President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, says the event, part of a series of seminars planned in cooperation with bishops’ conferences around the world, is just one response to the new challenges created by new technologies...

“We think one of the more important challenges that the church has to face in this moment is how to have a real, concrete dialogue with the digital culture ... with our people today,” he says. “Especially the young generations because these young generations are involved in the digital culture. It’s their way of living.”

The seminar, running from 17 to 20 April, is bringing together some 50 bishops and 20 priests working in the field of communications in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, the Holy Land, Jordan and Iraq and is being coordinated with the help of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East. The four-day encounter, focusing on the theme of “Communications in the Middle East as an Instrument of Evangelization, Dialogue and Peace,” follows on the heels of the 2010 Synod for the Church in the Middle East. Pope Benedict XVI himself is due to pay a pastoral visit to Lebanon in September to present the post-synodal exhortation of that Synod.

One seminar participant, Father Fady Tabet, calls the communications seminar “timely” especially given the recent conflicts in the Middle East and the Arab Spring. Director of the Voice of Charity Radio in Jounieh, Lebanon, Father Fady told Tracey McClure about some of the challenges facing the church in the Middle East as it tries to transmit Christ’s message of peace in a region in upheaval and not always tolerant of the Christian minority.

Father Fady says he expects the Lebanon seminar to send a message of unity within the Catholic Church, comprised of many Eastern churches in addition to the Latin Church — something particularly urgent now, he suggests, as Christians in the region look to the future with a certain degree of trepidation.

“The role of social communications and media [in the church] now,” he says, “is to spread the word of God and to strengthen our Christian people who are living this fear ... in the Middle East.”

Father Fady knows all about fear. He has been the target of death threats, a 2005 bomb attack on his radio station, and an Israeli airstrike on its antennae the following year.

But these threats to his life and to his job have done little to deter Father Fady from continuing his mission of bringing the Christian voice to the Middle East. What the church there urgently needs now, he says, is to meet emerging challenges posed by traditional forms of communications and new media.

“We need to understand today that the mass media is the first power in the whole world. Because unfortunately we don’t know how to talk to the youth. We don’t know how to talk to the people who don’t come to the church.”

You can read more about this here.

Tags: Christianity Unity Ecumenism Church

17 April 2012
Erin Edwards

A children’s choir performs at the Ethiopian Orthodox parish in Temple Hill, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C. (photo: Erin Edwards)

In 2009, I had the opportunity to visit with and learn from members of the Ethiopian community in Washington, D.C. Washington is home to the largest group of Ethiopians outside of the country itself — pretty remarkable. You can imagine the amount of culture, history and tradition that flows through the city. From the Ethiopian restaurants to the Orthodox churches, there were many moments in which I felt as though I was in Ethiopia.

Check out my interviews below with some of the young women I met while in D.C. For more, read the accompanying article by Vincent Gragnani, America’s Horn of Africa in the March 2009 issue of ONE.

Tags: Ethiopia Africa Ethiopian Orthodox Church

16 April 2012
Erin Edwards

Children dressed in traditional Bavarian garb dance for Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's 85th birthday celebrations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican 16 April.
(photo: CNS/Gregorio Borgia, pool via Reuters)

Today is Pope Benedict XVI’s 85th birthday. The Holy Father’s celebrations included Bavarian song and dance as an homage to his native country. Representatives from the Lutheran church and the Jewish community in Bavaria also gathered to wish him well. Join us in wishing Pope Benedict XVI a very happy birthday! Ad multos annos! To many years!

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope

13 April 2012
Sami El-Yousef

Sami El-Yousef meeting with Christian university students. (photo: CNEWA)

Sami El-Yousef is CNEWA’s regional director for Israel and Palestine.

After several months of endless waiting, uncertainty and waning hope, we were finally granted the permit to go to the Gaza Strip. Seven months have passed since our last visit in July 2011 as all our earlier efforts to get entry permits failed. It is still a mystery to me why they were not approved, but that is part of the challenge of doing business in the Holy Land; what is logical and makes sense anywhere else in the world does not make sense here.

Nevertheless, my colleague Gabi Kando and I were eager to get to Gaza to follow up on several ongoing projects, including the Pontifical Mission’s student sponsorship program for Christian students, and to launch our new project with four local institutions. This new project will provide hands-on training and short-term employment opportunities for hundreds of unemployed young Gazans who have very few prospects and who suffer from the current political situation and blockade.

We also had some surprising visits to new institutions, as well as other observations of the conditions inside the Gaza Strip.

We officially launched our training and short-term employment opportunities project soon after we arrived in Gaza, by signing four agreements. Two are with the NearEast Council of Churches, to train and offer employment for about 50 recentuniversity graduates, in addition to employment for around 100 graduates with vocational training. The third agreement was signed with the Ahli Arab Hospital to provide training and employment opportunities to about 70 health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, as well as other administrative and support staff. The fourth agreement was signed with the Society of Women Graduates to provide training and employment to about 80 women graduates of various universities in Gaza. There was to be a fifth and final agreement with the Myrrh Bearers Society to set up an income generation tailoring factory that would also provide 10 permanentemployment opportunities. For technical reasons — and as a result of the election of a new board at the time of our arrival — it was not possible to sign this agreement. This will be completed as soon as possible, however.

Needless to say, our presence in Gaza and the launch of this important project — thanks to the generous support from Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Luxembourg, Secoure Catholique/Caritas France, Misereor Germany and CNEWA Canada — brought a ray of hope to our Gaza partners, in a place where hope is very difficult to find. All those we met were encouraged and thankful that we continue to consider Gaza a priority and that they are not forgotten. Thus, I feel a great obligation to return as soon as possible to listen, encourage and bring hope.

I cannot help but reflect on the many observations that I made as we drove through the crowded streets, spoke to many people and visited institutions both new andold.

It was very clear to us that a serious reconstruction effort is taking place in Gaza. Most of the sites of the 6,500 or so structures that were damaged during the war four years ago have been cleared and, in many instances, are completely rebuilt. Although some of the building supplies have been smuggled through the tunnels from Egypt, Gaza is still short of necessities that cannot be smuggled in — such as road asphalt, fuel and electricity. Fuel is one commodity that everyone relies on, yet it is severely in short supply. Gas stations either lie closed or have long lines of cars if they still have fuel. The availability of electricity continues to be one of the most serious problems, since the supply from the electric company does not exceed six to eight hours per day; the rest of the time, individuals and institutions (including hospitals andclinics) must rely on electrical generators. Moreover, these generators run on either petrol or gasoline; when those are in short supply, electricity grows scarce as well. A desperate situation, indeed!

We drove 40 minutes from Gaza City to the Near Council of Churches Vocational Training Center in Qarrarah near Khan Younis to inspect the works that were completed there as part of a grant from the Swiss Holy Land Foundation. During the trip, we observed the following details:

  • There are many brand new cars on the roads with models not familiar to us in the local market. Our hosts explained that some come from Egypt, while many others were from Libyan dealerships, obtained at the height of the Libyan civil war. The tunnels evidently are alive and well, even growing in size, as they canhandle goods the size of a car.
  • Many old orange groves and other types of agricultural land are quickly disappearing as open spaces between major cities are being replaced by new commercial, industrial and housing construction. With land prices beyond reach in Gaza City, and given the scarcity of land, people are expanding outward. A stripthat is already crowded is getting more so with each passing day.
  • One can’t help but notice that donkey carriages and motorbikes hauling large trolleys (better known in Gaza as “tuk tuks”) are becoming the main mode of transportation, since they need little or no gas.
  • Halfwayalong our drive, we could see a crowd of a few hundred people (if not over a thousand) lined up in front of the offices of the Ministry of Social Affairs food distribution center, all pushing and shoving to get their ration of free food supplies. We could not determine who these people were, what criteria are being applied to receive the rations, or what is being distributed. But it was a very sad sight in this day and age.
  • Drivingby the Rosary Sisters School, we noticed the construction of four new schools for UNRWA on the former site of the Preventive Security Forces that was bombed and completely leveled during the war.

Once we arrived at the training center, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the works completed.

Continue reading the entire report.

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