The Kirk Session has agreed to give our Collection taken on Christmas Eve to help the work of the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation. A rather long and clumsy name for a general hospital. But not just any hospital.
The BASR was founded in 1960 by Leonard Cheshire. Entirely dependent on voluntary donations from England, it began life as a home for orphaned children and as a basis where simple medical help could be obtained. Over the years, with the extension of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, the one-time home has developed into the principal general hospital for the Bethlehem region treating all manner of ailments, disabilities and war injuries. What has not changed is that it remains a non-government organisation entirely dependent on voluntary financial donations.
Situated in a valley close to Bethlehem, below an illegal Israeli settlement, the hospital exists in the shadow of an Israeli army outpost. Travelling to and from the hospital can, at times, be difficult – depending upon the political mood existing in Israel. Electricity and water supplies can be turned off at any time. Yet, this hospital benefits all people regardless of their gender, age, religion, social class or nationality. Indeed, greeting visitors and patients alike in the driveway of the hospital is a stone statue with their governing ethic inscribed:
is First and Foremost
a Human Being.
The hospital was one of the most memorable and impressive visits made on our congregational pilgrimage to the Holy Land last Easter. Though financially stretched, we received generous hospitality. Now, a cheque for £600 can be sent from our church to aid their endeavours. What better time to do this than at Christmas!