“And there was light”, Vincenzo Bellomo, the head of Pro Terra Sancta’s projects in Palestine, jokingly observes as he sees the light bulbs hanging on the walls of the Dar al-Majus Community Home light up. It is indeed one of the final adjustments to the structure, which is now ready to be furnished and then, finally, open to the public and to the employees of Pro Terra Sancta in Bethlehem.
Dar al-Majus: literally “the place of the Magi”, the “wise men”, in Bethlehem. It is here that the Community Home of Pro Terra Sancta is located, a space dedicated to assisting and listening to the population of the Palestinian town, combined with intense work to promote the cultural heritage of the area.
Vincenzo tells us enthusiastically: “We are now in the final stages of the project. The last two floors will house the social and cultural sections; in the cultural part, an entire wing of the building will be dedicated to the history of Christianity. In Bethlehem, this is a particularly relevant decision!”
A social assistance
The social part of the Community Home project consists of a listening desk. Here, men and women of Bethlehem will find a place to turn to for every need, and will thus be able to see themselves included in a support network that Pro Terra Sancta in Bethlehem is strengthening every year.
And in fact, in Bethlehem there is a particular need for this kind of support. The Palestinian town is located close to the wall of confinement that restricts the freedom of trade and movement of its inhabitants, thus often ending up suffocating them. The very high rate of unemployment in the area often creates great social and relational problems.
These conditions have been worsened by the spread of the Covid pandemic. In Bethlehem, the vast majority of the population lives from tourism: artisans, shopkeepers, tradesmen, tour guides… these are mostly the jobs of the Bethlehemites. All jobs that, with the restrictions, suffered a lot, and basically had to be abandoned for two years.
Since 2019, we have put our hands on the requalification of an ancient building located in the Bethlehemite city known as “Dar al-Majus” with the intention of increasingly improving the services offered to the population.
A cultural focus
Not only will the structure host spaces dedicated to assisting the Bethlehemite people but it will also provide rooms where the local population could learn more about the deep value of the cultural legacy of this area of Palestine.
The mosaic of religions that distinguishes Bethlehem – and with it, the entire Holy Land – makes it a place whose richness and cultural ferment should be continually explored. It is also for this need that the Community Home of Dar al-Majus was designed.
The light and the end of the works
After having told you about the stages of progress of the construction site, we can now declare, with great joy, that the structural works are complete. The turning on of the light really means the crowning of three long years of hard work, which are now only waiting for the last touch-up: “Right now, only the furniture is missing”, says Vincenzo, “so we will ask for more help”.
Everything is ready, and, hoping that the work is completed by June, we could finally be able to dedicate ourselves to celebrating, and to opening up the new Community Home to the people of Bethlehem.