The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) celebrated the International Day of Elders at the Birzeit Social Development & Cultural Center (BSCC), on October 3rd.
Though the seniors contribute to the well-being of society, they feel marginalized and isolated. The BSCC honor these individuals through this ceremony that recognizes their accomplishments.
These seniors preserved their cultural heritage through telling their stories, passing their customs onto the next generations, and appreciating their part in preserving their heritage. Most seniors have chosen to remain in the country as a Christian witness instead of traveling abroad with their children.
Mrs. Najwa Khoury, Director of BSCC, in her opening remarks welcomed guests and prayed for mercy upon the martyr’s souls and wished a speedy recovery for the wounded. She asked attendees to observe a moment of silence for the martyrs, then welcomed the attendees on behalf of HCEF. Sir. Rateb Rabie, President/CEO of HCEF, extended his wishes for good health, wellness, and long life on this special day for the seniors.
Mrs. Khoury described the essential supporting role BSCC plays by making the center a meeting place for community events. She thanked Sir. Rateb, who supervises, follows-up, and manages the center daily. BSCC provides the necessary services in health services, but also cultural and social development, and sponsoring recreational activities, arranging trips, and providing nutritious meals. They also deliver food packages to their house and to their families.
The Birzeit Community Cultural Center operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Development, Birzeit Municipality, Atara Municipality, and the Steering Authority. The ceremony was also attended by dignitaries, local supporting institutions, and associations of Birzeit, in addition to distinguished guests represented by social affairs, police directors, national security officials, intelligence officers, and school principals.
Mrs. Warda Moqbel, representing the Ministry and Directorate of Social Development, highlighted the importance of elders in society. She praised the wisdom and humility of the seniors, who are due fair treatment, respect, and appreciation for guiding humanity through various challenges. Their steadfast presence assures the continuity of the region’s history and cultural heritage.
Ms. Diana Sayej Naser, Birzeit’s Mayor, focused on their extensive contributions in education and is supporting their families’ progress. She wished them good health, wellness, and long life, and noted that their presence guides us in wisdom. She emphasized that BSCC’s activities and events are extensive and are valued by the seniors and community alike.
Mr. Nasr Atari, Atara’s Mayor, spoke about the customs and traditions that bind us to our parents and grandparents, and the importance of caring for them as they age. He spoke about the moral duty to honor you elders in response to their generosity throughout life. It is essential to provide them with a decent life in their later years.
Father Dr. Louis Hazboun, the Latin Church Pastor, relayed that it is the International Elders Day for all senior citizens of Palestine. They are the bedrock of a vibrant community. He described the elders as a beacon of light and a source of pride, and accordingly, society has a sacred duty to honor them and provide them with comfort and care.
Dr. Massara Barghouthi from the Palestinian Ministry of Health explained the importance of nutritious meals for the elders. She advised them how to follow a balanced food plan, and described how preparing healthy meals can be beneficial to help the seniors maintain optimal health and reduce obesity and chronic illnesses. A balanced nutrition contributes to vitality and makes daily activities easier to do. It provides more energy and elevates one’s mood while maintaining independence because one can function more fully. When aging, the body needs fewer calories and more nutrients. The elders are advised to eat foods such as: fruits and vegetables, wheat bread, brown rice, skim milk …. and others.
There was a strong turnout for the celebration. More than 100 elders from Birzeit and Atara attended, as well as officials from local institutions and neighboring towns. Community members showed up to care for a traditionally marginalized group who have passed on their heritage to us. Local friends want to make them feel validated and honored.
Sincere thanks is given to the Palestinian Radio and Television Corporation represented by Mr. Osama Nazzal, head of the International Media Unit. Gratitude is given to the television crew for covering the ceremony, and members of the Center’s advisory and administrative committee. We are grateful to all donors for their in-kind or direct contributions. We want to acknowledge other partners like, the Social Development Directorate, Palestinian Ministry of Health, factory Birzeit, the Political Guidance Authority, the Pharmaceutical Company, Al Majedah Waseelah School, Birzeit Girls Basic School, UNRWA, Birzeit Latin Monastery School, social media, and all the institutions that held events and parties inside the center.
The ceremony witnessed several special moments including reciting traditional and poetic poems, competitions using popular proverbs, most notably the traditional tale presented by the storyteller Hamza Al-Aqrabawi. Performances of musical tunes and the dabkeh followed. The ceremony was concluded with a nutritious lunch, abundant sweets, and distribution of several gifts and roses, which added joy and delight to the elders.
To support the elders please donate now https://hcef.org/programs/bscc/