The financial disaster within the Holy Land forces college students to withdraw from Christian faculties

The financial disaster within the Holy Land forces college students to withdraw from Christian faculties

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Covid precautions before school.(Photo: Friends of the Holy Land)

Christian schools in the Holy Land are struggling as families withdraw their children because of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

The Christian schools of the Holy Land are dependent on fees because the local authorities do not provide financial support. In a region that is heavily dependent on tourism, many families could not bear the costs.

Friends of the Holy Land charity, which supports Christians in the region, said Covid had destroyed livelihoods and put a heavy burden on families after more than a year without pilgrims and tourists.

The cycle of lockdowns means that many families have used up all their reserves and can no longer pay the fees for Christian schools attended by both Muslims and Christians.

Suhail Diabes, director of the Latin Patriarchal School in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, said: "It is an unprecedented crisis.

"Parents have no jobs to pay their school fees. In Bethlehem in particular, the majority of our Christian families earn their living in the tourism sector, which is now blocked.

"In 24 years of working in schools I have never faced a situation like this. If schools collapse, hundreds of Christian families will find no income."

Abeer Hanna, director of 13 schools in the Roman Catholic Church in the West Bank, said she had heard from families faced with deciding which children to withdraw from school.

She said that as the pandemic progressed, 300 students were forced to drop out of school because of financial problems at home.

Another difficult school is the Bethlehem School for Joy, which teaches children with learning difficulties, Down's syndrome, autism, or severe trauma. Friends of the Holy Land are now the school's sole financial services provider and additional funding is urgently needed to keep vital ministries up and running.

Friends of the Holy Land have launched a sponsored Pentecost challenge that encourages people to walk, bike, swim, or run to enjoy children on a virtual pilgrimage of 84 miles – the distance from Bethlehem to Nazareth help to stay in school and keep schools afloat.

Individuals taking part in the Pentecost Challenge can record their distance online and access videos of the places along the way that include local history and insights from teachers and priests.

Episcopal Priest Father Nael Abu Rahmoun of Christ Church in Nazareth, who will welcome the pilgrims to their final destination, said: "Some families are unable to pay school fees, including those at our Christ School. They hope for support to live in Would allow. " for their children.

"Please continue to support Friends of the Holy Land so that we can offer a candle, a light of hope for our people, our students and our families.

"In Nazareth and the surrounding villages, people are still hoping for good news and new hope after the pandemic as they wait to get back to work as we try to support them in so many difficult situations in their families."

You can find more information about the Pentecost Challenge at: www.friendsoftheholyland.org.uk/pentecost

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