Our mission is to establish permanent Day Care Centre facilities in Bethlehem from which a compassionate hand of friendship can be extended to poor and vulnerable elderly women and men. A place where they can meet for companionship, food and mutual support. A Centre from which outreach care programmes including Hospice Care can be developed and delivered. We also aim to put in place Hospice Care for the ill and terminally ill.
‘O Little town of Bethlehem’
Bethlehem, is a special place to a great many people in the world. It is special to Christians, to Judaism and to Islam. Many of Bethlehem’s inhabitants can trace their ancestry back to the time of Christ.
The world has an idealised view of Bethlehem. It is associated with Christmas and the events of 2000 years ago. Many forget that Bethlehem is also a living community facing the everyday challenges of everyday life in a new and emerging state – Palestine.
Among the many difficulties faced by the people of Bethlehem is the plight of its elderly citizens. Family is traditionally very strong in Palestine but significant numbers of older people find themselves isolated and alone after waves of emigration have seen their children and grandchildren move abroad. Unlike citizens in other countries Palestinians are not entitled to welfare support and this effects the elderly more than most.
Many of them face daily life isolated from their families, trapped in poverty and facing all the trials of getting old without any real support. Therefore we are seeking to support and make permanent a Care and Repair Centre in Bethlehem which would help service the needs of the local elderly women and men, provide a social network for them, nutrition services, basic health care and a sense that they are still valued as members of their society and are not forgotten.
There is little industry and few resources. The main industry is tourism and in times of conflict or difficulty the tourists and pilgrims do not come. The economy suffers, unemployment rises still higher and poverty increases. In this cycle of events the elderly are among those who suffer most.
The Bethlehem Christmas ‘image’ masks the problems of everyday living for its elderly people and as such they are forgotten.
Looking at these premises in Bethlehem as a potential Care Centre/hospice.
Without pensions retirement is not an option in Bethlehem.
“I am in my 80s and I live and feel alone. The situation has been like this for many years after I have lost my husband; my sons got married and established their own life. I suffer from joint problems that make it very difficult for me to put much effort in response to my needs. Saint Martha’s House is a place where I love to spend some time during the week. I feel very much comfortable with the personal care the staff provides me with. It is the House where I encourage more ladies to be part of.”Suhalia Abu Hamameh
St Martha’s House
Local Palestinian volunteers have established a registered charity to provide a day ‘Care and Repair’ centre at St Martha’s House. Its ethos is Christian but it is open to all. Its resources are meagre.
The rented rooms are cramped and admit only 22 people at any one time. Some help is provided by other charities but even with outside help St Martha’s House can only cater for 37 women. The list of those who are known to be in need is many times that number.
There are currently no provisions for elderly men.
hand of support
St Martha’s extends a compassionate hand of support to poor and vulnerable elderly women in Bethlehem. Here ladies meet for companionship, food and mutual support. Without St Martha’s, and its limited programmes, many elderly women would literally be abandoned. The local community cannot extend its support or make St Martha’s House a permanent feature. They simply do not have the resources. We want to make permanent and extend the help given to the elderly from St Martha’s House and to that end we aim to provide a Day Care Centre.
Our intention is also to provide hospice care to the sick and needy.
Bethlehem Care and Hospice Trust
37 Conalan Avenue, Bradway, Sheffield S17 4PG
We are a registered charity in England and Wales (1158406) and Scotland (SC048752).