Jeel al Amal
Jeel al Amal (“Generation of Hope”) Boys’ Home and School in Bethany
St Mary’s has held Jeel al Amal in our prayers ever since 1999, when our own Rev’d Duncan Swan led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during which a number of people from St Mary’s visited the Home in Bethany, in the Palestinian West Bank. There they saw the dedication and the love that the surviving founder and her staff showed to the boys – as one of our members described it, “Christianity in action”. They determined to continue to support the Home, and ever since, St Mary’s has held events in aid of Jeel, and our coffee money has been devoted to Jeel.
Caring mainly for Muslim children, Jeel al Amal arose from the vision and determination of two Christians, Basil and Alice Sahhar. In 1972 they rented an old run-down building in Bethany and took in ten orphan boys. Over the next decade the couple raised funds to build a School for local children and a Home for up to 100 boys. Boys from the Home would then mix with local children and become full members of the community. Basil died in 1987, but Alice carried on caring for her boys and raising the money for their keep.
Over the years, the indomitable Alice had built a substantial network of friends and supporters for the Home, but when she died in 2008, leaving her daughter Najwa to continue the work, many of these personal contacts were lost. This setback, together with the deteriorating political environment, made funding much more difficult, and since then money for wages, food, electricity and water has always been critically short.
While some major donors have been willing to finance various improvement projects, which can be completed and photographed, day-to-day necessities do not have the same appeal to them. It is in this day-to-day area that ongoing support from churches such as St Mary’s is so vital to help Najwa continue the work of Christian love and care begun by her parents.