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Christian social-action projects in Gaza

by
16 March 2011

iStock

From Mr Jeremy Moodey

Sir, — Most of your readers will have been moved by Johanna Rogers’s article about the children in Gaza (News, 25 February).

Having just returned from a trip to Gaza to visit our partner projects in the territory, I can confirm that Gazan children continue to suffer greatly from the after-effects of the Israeli offensive and the continuing blockade. One of the problems is the sheer number of children in Gaza: about a half of the territory’s population of 1.6 million, contained in an area the size of the Isle of Wight, is under 15 years old.

This puts impossible strains on educational and healthcare infra­struc­ture, especially given the diffi­culty of importing building materials for new schools and clinics. At a more basic level, there is also no­where for Gazan children to play, with the result that many of them have to wander about dangerously in the streets. It is little wonder that a recent study by the Palestinian Ministry of Health suggested that

43 per cent of child deaths aged between five and 19 years in Gaza were attributable to accidents, com­pared with just 13 per cent in the West Bank.

Many international NGOs active in Gaza channel their aid through local secular and Muslim organisa­tions, such as Islamic Relief or the Culture and Free Thought Associa­tion, mentioned in the article. What people may not realise is that there is also a tiny Christian community in Gaza, less than 0.2 per cent of the total population, and often facing persecution from Islamic funda­mentalists. This community has its own vibrant social-action ministry, delivered to people of all faiths, and often focused on the needs of trau­matised and sick children.

Christian projects in Gaza in­clude the Anglican diocese in Jeru­salem’s Al-Ahli Hospital, clinics and vocational training centres run by the Near East Council of Churches, and the Gaza YMCA. BibleLands is a partner with many of these organisations, and would love to do more in Gaza. The need is enormous, and the Christian response is sur­prisingly powerful and effective.

JEREMY MOODEY
Chief Executive
BibleLands
24 London Road West
Amersham, Bucks HP7 0EZ

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