29 February 2016
Spring has arrived early in New York City, and, during a much-needed spring-cleaning of my desk, I uncovered this memento from a trip to the Holy Land back in 2013.
I met the little artist who drew this card at the Infant Welfare Center, in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. He’s one of about 27,500 Palestinian Arabs who, since Israel seized the Old City in 1967, still live within its ancient stone walls.
Jerusalem is a prosperous place, but many of the Palestinian families are deeply poor. The children of the Old City suffer from overcrowded housing, a lack of access to health care and limited educational opportunities — as well as a permeating mood of frustration and hopelessness. At bottom, they’re victims of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
But behind the heavy metal door of the Infant Welfare Center, I didn’t see any suffering. The happy shouts of children filled the 700-year-old building with joy.
The center is a program of the Greek Catholic Annunciation Society and houses a kindergarten, a health clinic, tutoring for at-risk teens and other services that address genuine needs of the Palestinian children in the Old City. It’s a very impressive place. The youngsters I met there were just four or five years old, but the center was already teaching them English. We sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” together.
Now that the card has been rescued from the bottom of a drawer, it’s hanging on the wall above my desk. And I want to thank you for the wonderful memory. Because the Infant Welfare Center is supported by your generous donations to CNEWA.
Tags: Palestine Jerusalem Education