ABM and AID supporters tune in to stories of hope from the Middle East

Feb 28, 2023

ABM and AID’s supporters tune in to messages of hope in the Middle East

“Hope for the future” was the key message that 40 ABM and AID supporters heard from the guest speakers at the launch of the 2023 ABM AID Lent and Good Friday Appeal. Last Thursday’s Zoom meeting was hosted by the Rt Rev Brad Billings, Assistant Bishop of Diocese of Melbourne. Speakers were Sawsan Aranki-Batato, the Programs Development Officer of The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem & the Middle East, and Suhaila Tarazi, Director General of Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza.

Sawsan shared some surprising statistics about the age make-up of the population in Jerusalem, with around half the population aged under the age of 18, and a further 22% are aged between 18 and 29 yrs. This is the one of the motivations behind the project that AID’s Good Friday Appeal is supporting: the Youth Leadership Program, which supports young Palestinian Anglicans to gain greater knowledge of their cultural heritage and to strengthen their leadership skills. Sawsan shared that participants of the sessions will have opportunities to use their new skills and to develop their leadership skills across the church structures. The young people will be able to better turn challenges into opportunities and reduce the need for them to leave their country to find work.

While the Youth Leadership Project invests in teenagers and young adults, the church is also investing in the lives of young children and women through the Gender and Nutrition Project run from the Al Ahli Hospital, the only Christian hospital in Gaza. In response to some shocking rates of gender-based violence, early marriage, and childhood malnutrition, the Al Ahli provides a path to health for children and empowerment for their mothers and other vulnerable young women. Using one-to-one “woman to woman” approach and group sessions in safe and supportive environments that respect cultural sensitivities, the Al Ahli Hospital advocates are seeing great successes. Almost all children in the program achieve a healthy weight and women’s knowledge and attitudes around nutrition, child development, women’s and children’s rights has increased by 51%.

Even while Sawsan was speaking, Gaza was under bombardment, underlining the difficulties the Church and its service arms face on so many levels.

Both Sawsan and Suhaila thanked ABM and AID’s supporters for their prayers and financial giving. They both noted that their presentations are only an introduction to the reality of life in Palestine and Gaza and encouraged people to learn more and travel there if possible.

Despite Christians making up less than 2% of the population, the Diocese of Jerusalem is continuing a tradition of being the living stones that are Jesus’ hands and feet in the Middle East, reaching out to large numbers of people regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

Bishop Brad encouraged those present to ensure the stories shared by Sawsan and Suhaila are told among their congregations. He assured Sawsan and Suhaila of our ongoing prayers.

The Archbishop of Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum, had to be an apology at the launch, but thanked ABM and AID for our support.

ABM is keen to keep connecting our supporters with our partners in similar ways and we invite you to join us for the Easter Appeal Launch on 30 March at 2pm AEDT. Find out more here.

You can learn more or donate to our Lent and Good Friday Appeal here.