“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

HCEF’s Journey to Jerusalem another Historic Success

780 boys and girls from 11 villages and towns and 31 parishes paraded through Jerusalem's old city roads and alleys. The Journey to Jerusalem, an event organized to bring Palestinian children of various Christian denominations to Jerusalem for the Easter season, proceeded as planned, and was a great success. At 9:30, most of the buses arrived at the top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. Some had left as early as 5:30 a.m., as they gathered children from Beit Sahour, Taybeh, Aboud, Nablus, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Birzeit, Ramallah and Jerusalem. At 9:30, most of the buses arrived at the top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Old city of Jerusalem. Some had left as early as 5:30 a.m., as they gathered children from Beit Sahour, Taybeh, Aboud, Nablus, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Birzeit, Ramallah and Jerusalem.

To see pictures of the event, please click here:(PDF) 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

780 boys and girls from 11 villages and towns and 31 parishes paraded through Jerusalem's old city roads and alleys.  The Journey to Jerusalem, an event organized to bring Palestinian children of various Christian denominations to Jerusalem for the Easter season, proceeded as planned, and was a great success. 

 

At 9:30, most of the buses arrived at the top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.  Some had left as early as 5:30 a.m., as they gathered children from Beit Sahour, Taybeh, Aboud, Nablus, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Birzeit, Ramallah and Jerusalem.  The arriving groups were greeted with songs of praise, as they waited for the last bus to come from Zababdeh, which was held up at al-Beithan checkpoint, just outside of Tubas, for three hours.  Walking down the elevated mountain to Gethsemane, the group was preceded by priests and pastors from the Orthodox, Catholic and Latin rites, Franciscan friars and Lutheran deacons.  They were finally met by the children from Zababdeh in the old city. 

 

Praising God and in jubilation of being in Jerusalem – a city that most of them had heard of but had never have been able to see in person – the children proceeded from Gethsemane by bus to the Jaffa gate – one of the city's twelve gates – and straight into the narrow streets of the Old City to embrace the church of the Holy Sepulcher with humility and love.  Wafa' Saed, a child from Birzeit, evoked the simplicity of children's joy:  "Today we had the chance to make new friends and the joy of seeing Jerusalem."  Sara Saadeh, a child from Nablus, said:  "I encountered many new kids of my age from other villages, especially how is now my friend from Birzeit.  It is the first time I get to meet people from Birzeit."  Birzeit is only 30 miles from Nablus.
 
All the children knelt down at the tomb, wiping up the remnants of the sacred oil spilt on top of the ancient stone with their hands and napkins, blessing their faces and carrying some to their families back home.  It was a challenge for the supervisors and HCEF Bethlehem staff to keep them in order!  The children were active and over-excited as they assimilated as much as they could of the physical and spiritual experience, knowing that such an opportunity might never recur.  Using their little free time from walking and being attended by escorting adults, some of the children went into shops to buy souvenirs and relics, and some of the girls bought earrings and bracelets.

 

The accompanying adults were no less excited, as they carried their flags and wore their colored hats into the church and the city.  They, too, admired the holy place, and all were fascinated by the human traffic and the variety of goods on display.  Amal Bahnam, member of the Holy Land Christian Support Network in Jerusalem, recounted:  "As we walked by, shop owners were asking:  'where did that many children come from?'  It was an important symbol of how Christian presence, when gathered together, makes an impact.  And the children felt empowered."

 

All the groups gathered at the church piazza before they moved to the last stop of the program- Saint Anne.s church at Lion's Gate.  There, they gathered to share food- traditional Jerusalem bread and falafel.  That gathering ended the day, with many memories to be shared amongst them and with the new communities they had met, new friends and new relations.

Rawan Khoury, who came from Jifna, a village on the outskirts of Ramallah, recalled:  "We praise the Lord in front of all people.  I was overjoyed with Easter joy now that I have seen Jerusalem for the first time.  I was at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, Gethsemane and the Holy Sepulcher, and I could feel the Bible come alive as I saw the magnificence of such places. I will remember this day for ever and will never forget the sight of this gathering."

 

HCEF would like to warmly thank all those who contributed in kind and in time to this exceptional event- the Pontifical Mission, the Franciscan Custody, Caritas, the Lutheran schools, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the generous individuals in the United States who responded to our appeal.  Your participation marked the lives of these children in this Easter celebration in a special way, paving the way for hope in a time of great distress. 

 

Says Khader Anton from Jifna:  "This trip enhanced children belonging to the church, the homeland and the people.  They will remember this day for many years to come. They will also keep it in their hearts. It is our obligation and responsibility, we the adults, that we keep Jerusalem alive in our children's hearts.  Today, Jerusalem became part of their inheritance."

 

Thanks to HCEF staff in Bethlehem – George Ghattas, Sonia Ghanem, Amani Juha, Manar Giacaman, Issa Sakhleh and Michel Hanania, HCSN leaders Amal Bahnam and Rula Shubeita, and all those who volunteered their time and efforts.  You made our dream come true!

 

To see pictures of the event, please click here:(PDF) 

 

 

 

Below are the colors of the hats and their corresponding towns and villages.

 

 

Bethlehem- dark green
Beit Jala- blue
Beit Sahour- light green
Ramallah- red
Zaabdeh- orange
Rafidia / Nablus- purple
Aboud- phosphoric orange
Beir Zeit- phosphoric yellow
Jifna- light blue
Taybeh- yellow
Jerusalem- black
Jericho (cancelled)- White

 

 

 

 

2016-10-24T07:30:45+00:00 May 6th, 2005|Categories: News|