HCEF delegation comprised of Sir Rateb Rabie, President and CEO of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation; Lady Rocio Rabie, Public Relations and Outreach; and Laura Menchaca, Management and Development Officer – paid a visit to the Palestinian Diaspora in Chile to continue developing HCEF programs Know Thy Heritage and Future Business Leaders, promote religious tourism to the Holy Land, and bring more Diaspora home through HCEF’s new diaspora initiatives. Chile, which boasts the largest population of Palestinians outside of the Middle East, is home to several HCEF partners. Sir Rateb met with them and many other Palestinian organizations to continue planning for HCEF’s initiatives taking place this summer: the Know Thy Heritage Youth Leadership Program (KTH), the Diaspora Homecoming Journey, and the 5th Annual Diaspora Conference. Sir Rateb also met with church leaders to update them on the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and to discuss the vital role they can play to help their Christian brothers and sisters remain in Holy Land.
Sir Rateb met with Mario Nazal, President of the Palestinian Foundation Bethlehem 2000 (Fundación Palestina Belén 2000), and Alexis Sfeir, Executive Director, to discuss their longstanding partnership with HCEF. Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to work together, and Sir Rateb thanked them for their continuous support.
Starting their visit in Santiago, the HCEF delegation visited the Palestinian Federation of Chile (Federación Palestina de Chile) with President, Nadia Garib and Executive Director, Anuar Majluf. They discussed ways in which they could work together on specific projects. Sir Rateb presented Ms. Nadia Garib with the “Key to Palestine,” in gratitude for all of the work the Federation does in representing the Palestinian collective before the wider Chilean community. Sir Rateb capped off the first day of his journey by attending the Palestinian Land Day Commemoration at the Palestinian club. Heads of Palestinian organizations in Chile were in attendance.
Continuing with their mission of reviving the partnership between HCEF and the Orthodox Antiochian churches, Sir Rateb and Lady Rocio met with Monseñor Sergio Abad, Head of the Orthodox Church in Santiago and HCEF Advisory Board Member. Monseñor Serigio Abad endorsed HCEF’s work and will help promote the Living Stones Pilgrimages with the Chilean community.
The HCEF delegation met with the Colegio Árabe (The Arab School) Headmaster Jorge Alamo with whom they discussed cooperation between the two organizations. Mr. Alamo is interested in having HCEF organize trips for students to Palestine due to the success HCEF has demonstrated in organizing KTH and other Diaspora initiatives. HCEF expressed their agreement and also offered to facilitate volunteer opportunities for Colegio Árabe students who wish to extend their stay in Palestine.
Sir Rateb then had a meeting with H.E. Ambassador Imad Nabil Jadaa, where they discussed the Palestinian diaspora community in Chile and the work of HCEF. Also present were Jorge Daccarret, Bank of Palestine Representative in Chile, Alexis Sfier, Rocio Rabie, and Laura Menchaca. There, Sir Rateb was introduced to Palestinian businessman and entrepreneur, Anas Hamed, Chairman of Linova International; together they discussed several projects for Palestine.
From Santiago, the HCEF delegation embarked on their first ever trip to Concepción, Chile, where he was greeted by Alex Cattan, President of Centro Árabe (Arab Center of Concepción). President Cattan introduced Sir Rateb to the Board of Directors of Centro Árabe where they discussed how to promote HCEF’s programs and initiatives locally. Sir Rateb also had the opportunity to meet with Antonio Hanania Batshoma, General Manager of Empresas Hanania, and to introduce him to the mission of HCEF. They discussed the possibility of a new partnership of mutual support. For more details on this visit, see our past press release here.
After a fruitful trip to Concepción, the HCEF delegation returned to Santiago to continue on their journey. He gave a presentation to the Palestinian community in the Palestinian Club of Santiago about HCEF’s upcoming initiatives. The event was open to the public and well attended. Attendees were informed of HCEF’s diaspora initiatives, such as Know Thy Heritage and the Diaspora Homecoming Journey, as well as pilgrimage opportunities for all Chileans wanting reconnect with the Mother Church in the Holy Land. Sir Rateb also took this opportunity to meet with KTH Alumni and KTH 2016 delegates.
The HCEF delegation also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Eugenio Chahuan and Kamal Cumsille, respectively President and Director of the Center of Arab Studies at the University of Chile (Centro de Estudios Arabes de la Universidad de Chile); both parties discussed the possibility of launching an academic conference in 2017.
Knowing that pilgrimages to the Holy Land are an excellent way to connect Christians of the Holy Land with Christians around the world, and that this is the best way to promote understanding and peace in the region, establishing Living Stone Pilgrimages to the Holy Land in Chile was a top priority.
Sir Rateb met with Padre Joaquín Alliende, faithful partner of the Palestinian people, to gain his endorsement and help in promoting the Living Stones Pilgrimages to churches throughout Santiago. Padre Alliende gave his endorsement and has since been instrumental in promoting the Living Stones Pilgrimages as well as in connecting HCEF with the necessary people. Sir Rateb also met with several travel agencies to promote the Living Stones Pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Amongst these were Judith Itaim and Nadia Daccarett who have a deep passion for Palestine and are deeply involved in advocacy efforts.
Sir Rateb also met with His Eminence Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., Archbishop of Santiago. Together they discussed the plight of the Holy Land Christians and the importance of reconnecting Christians in Chile with the birthplace of Christianity. HCEF requested his endorsement of the Living Stones Pilgrimages and His Eminence agreed. Padre Alliende was also present at this meeting.
Reflecting upon his six day journey, Sir Rateb stated “This has been one of my most successful trips to Chile. I was able to connect diaspora Palestinians back to their roots in Palestine. On behalf of HCEF, I strive to give the opportunity for Christians all over the world to rediscover their faith in the Holy Land. It is a global effort to stand in solidarity with Palestinian Christians and I look forward to what we can accomplish together.