2011 – 2017 Summer Camps

May 2017         Thank You to CNT

CNT has donated £1,500 to the Latin Patriarchate Summer Camps, demonstrating CNT commitment to this invaluable project.

On May 24th, Charles Guilbert-Roed, Head of LPJ Project Development wrote:

On behalf of Fr Imad, I thank you for your e-mail and your dedication to the Holy Land.  I will confirm your donation of £1,500 as soon as we receive it.

Indeed, there is a need for summer programs that focus on spiritual, educational and recreational skills for parishes serving low-income communities in impoverished areas as well as areas of conflict.  Our children and youth need to be involved in programs that provide activities to support them throughout the summer break.”

 

Volunteering for a Summer Camp

This is an experience of a life-time — helping, learning and so enriching.  Read about the experiences of some of those forty five volunteers who, with some financial support from the Trust, went to Palestine between 2011 and 2014 to participate in LPJ parish Summer Camps.  These camps keep children, and indeed the whole parish, occupied during the long hot summer months when poverty and Israeli travel restrictions make it impossible for families to travel and enjoy a summer holiday.

V and CNT

2014 Volunteers with Becky and Margaret ready to leave Luton for Tel Aviv

2014 Volunteers with Becky and Margaret ready for Tel Aviv

CNT members with volunteers ready to leave for the West Bank

In 2015, CNT gave £5,000 towards the cost of summer camps run by LPJ parishes in Palestine and Jordan.

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A Life-Changing Experience

Jifna Summer Camp

Kathryn Lland, some of whose other activities for the Trust are recorded elsewhere on this site (English Lessons and Running for the Trust) wrote the following article for the November, 2009, issue of The Vine, the Northampton Diocesan Newsletter, about the four weeks she spent in Palestine in July, 2009, teaching English in the Jifna Summer Camp. We are grateful to the Diocese and to the Vine’s editor for their permission to reproduce the text and images from the article here:

“The experience was one that can only be described as life changing and extremely thought provoking and, as anyone who has been to the Holy Land will tell you, one trip to the Middle East and you will never watch the news in the same light again!

Children at the Camp

Children at the Camp

Jifna is a small, mainly Christian village 14 miles north of Jerusalem. The annual Summer Camp runs the whole month of July and is organised for all the children in the village aged between 4 and 18 years old, 180 children in total! The Camp is supported by a dedicated team of local volunteers, university students, local seminarians and primary school teachers, who work tirelessly to give these children a summer to remember. From 8:30am to 2pm children between 4 and 12 years old are able to take part in activities including arts and crafts, music, sport, aerobics, religion and swimming lessons at the local swimming pool. From 4pm to 10pm it is the turn of the teenagers – 13 to 18.

As well as providing plenty of fun, the summer camp serves to heal children from the trauma they have experienced as a result of the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict, whilst building their self esteem and improving their communication skills. The leisure activities also serve to promote social integration and community cohesion, elements which are vitally important if we want to maintain a Christian community in the Holy Land.

Staff and Students at the Camp

Staff and Students at the Camp

Christians currently make up less than 2% of the population of the Holy Land. During the Pope’s recent visit, he appealed to Christians to stay in the Holy Land, a feat proving ever more difficult as Christians in Palestine endure ongoing difficulties.

Telling the time in English

Telling the time in English

My time volunteering in the camp was an educational and cultural one, for both the children and myself. Almost none of the children had ever met an English person before, and many of them jumped at the chance to practise their spoken English and in particular to improve their pronunciation. When I asked them why they felt it was so important to learn English, many said that if they spoke English, they could get a better job when they finished school and would be able to support their family. Their enthusiasm and dedication was infectious and I was only too happy to help. With the use of books, posters, maps, flash cards and activity sheets brought over from the UK, I was able to introduce the children to a different approach to learning a foreign language. We even managed to make it fun!

My first experience of the Palestinian people found them to be kind, generous and very family orientated. It was heart warming to see them coming together to support others in the face of such adversity. I was also touched by the fact that Palestinian children are extremely grateful for the education they receive, something which many of us take for granted in this country. The children are a true inspiration as they realise the best way to change their circumstances is by furthering their education and not through violent measures.”

Running for the Trust

Charity Run

On Friday, March 28, 2008, Kathryn Lland, a long-time supporter of the Trust, ran in the Liverpool half-marathon for the Trust’s benefit. She invited friends and acquaintances to sponsor her by making donations through the Charities Aid Foundation at www.cafonline.org. She completed the run in 2 hours and 8 minutes, and collected more than £875 in sponsorship contributions for the Trust. The pictures below were provided by courtesy of Marathonfoto. The money will go through CNT to one or two schools in the Holy Land, including Ashrafieh, where Kathryn helped as a student teacher in September 2007.

Kathryn at the Liverpool Marathon - photo courtesy of Marathonfoto

Kathryn at the Liverpool Marathon – photo courtesy of Marathonfoto

Kathryn, sponsored by the CNT, returned to Jifna Parish in July 2009 to assist in the running of their annual summer camp. This extends over the entire month of July and offers around 120 children the opportunity to combine catechism and peace eduction with swimming courses, art, music, sport and handicrafts.

Kathryn at the Liverpool Marathon - photo courtesy of Marathonfoto

Kathryn at the Liverpool Marathon – photo courtesy of Marathonfoto

Kathryn at the Liverpool Marathon - photo courtesy of Marathonfoto

Kathryn at the Liverpool Marathon – photo courtesy of Marathonfoto

English Lessons

English Lessons with ‘Miss Kathryn’ and ‘Miss Emma’

In September 2007, two students from Liverpool University, Kathryn and Emma, spent two weeks at Al Ashrafieh, a junior school in Misdar. They took as many educational aids as they could squeeze in their luggage. The children responded enthusiastically to the lively, creative activities in the dual language books.

Kathryn, from Bedford, 100_1155applied to the Catenian Bursary Fund, which generously gave £300Kathryn and a student towards travel costs. Bursary Fund Chairman, Peter Martin said: “We are delighted the Bursary Fund can assist Catholic students to help with education in the Holy Land. We are willing to fund projects with the Christian Schools in Jordan and Palestine”. Kathryn subsequently ran a half marathon to raise more money for Al Ashrafieh. Here are some extracts from Kathryn’s diary:

The school day begins at 7.20 am with a short assembly outside on the tarmac playground with the children lined up in their respective classes. A short drill follows and the national anthem is sung. Then a few prayers but all-in-all the assembly is kept quite short.

The school itself is very bare like a hospital, with long corridors and classrooms with white washed walls. There is room for the children to play football, but the playground is also the car park for teachers and the four school buses, leaving the area for playing greatly reduced. 100_1042Kathryn with some more of her studentsThe lower school teaches children from 1st grade up to 9th grade and the children are aged from 5 – 15 years old. With 5th grade we took students out for individual conversation practice. Whilst the teachers wanted us to take the brightest students, we specifically focused on the quieter children who have little or no interaction during lessons. 5th grade are 11 years old but they had forgotten the simplest of English. The teacher was giving a grammar lesson but one of my students Joel could not tell me when his birthday was or what day of the week it was. By the end of our session he knew days of the week, months of the year and his birthday. Many students were similar to Joel, but at the slower pace, individual learning helped tremendously. We conducted paired reading with 5th grade.

One boy, Yazan, really enjoyed ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’. I asked him to read the English first and then the Arabic. Towards the end of the book he longer needed to read the Arabic. At the end of the book where the caterpillar gets “stomach ache”, Yazan didn’t understand this word. After reading it in Arabic and using it in a sentence he went back to class. The next day I saw Yazan sat in a chair near the staff room looking upset. I asked him what was wrong and told me in perfect English, “I have a stomach ache Miss Kathryn”.

One Family makes a Difference

One family makes a difference for Ajloun school children

Ajlun Signpost

Ajlun Signpost

Following an intensive fund-raising campaign by Chris Richards and Margaret Waddingham, when over £25,000 was raised through generous donations from the Lenten Project 2008 by the parishioners of Our Lady of Grace and St Edward in Chiswick, a dream came true for the teachers and pupils of Ajloun School in Jordan. The money raised was used to purchase and install computers with the latest Microsoft software for small businesses. The project recruited the help of Chris’s family and made use of the various talents which enabled them to run the charitable venture through from fund raising to providing and installing these up to date computers. Now, with the very latest technology, pcs-2472Ajloun School Ajloun students with Tony Richards can create a centre of excellence for its pupils and indeed offer support and training to other Schools within the Latin Patriarchate.

Chris, accompanied by his brother Tony, who is a director of the Guildford based company Computer Strategies, and Tony’s two sons Sam and Jo, travelled to Jordan on the 1st November 2008. They set about sourcing chairs and desks for the newly refurbished computer room, installing 12 new computers and its network and finally training both the staff and pupils on the new technology.

Tony, in charge of the technical side of the project, confirmed that the venture was an experience for all involved. He was very impressed at how quickly the children mastered this new software. With the aid of an interpreter, they quickly overcame the language problem, even when training the teachers on the more technical aspects of the software. pc2-2464“This is the first charitable venture our company has undertaken, and we’ve been delighted to offer time, expertise and financial assistance Pupils and teacher using the new computersto this cause.”

Thanks to Chris, Margaret, Tony, Sam and Jo, and their tireless efforts, this school now has a fully refurbished computer room, which has benefited from redecoration, new furniture, curtains and state of the art technology to give the school’s pupils an opportunity to work with up to the minute software in a modern and businesslike environment. The team left Ajloun on the 10th November after attending a surprise banquet provided by the teaching staff who had brought food from home, and just prior to departure they received an emotional ‘thank you’ from all the school’s staff and pupils.
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Christmas in Bethlehem

Tony Ockendon, an Advisor to CNT, writes:

I have had the privilege of attending Midnight Mass in Bethlehem three times. The first was in 1947 when I was a 20 year old officer in the British Army of occupation at the time. The second was in 2002, when I was on one of my trips relating to the Latin Patriarchal schools. The third visit was the Christmas of 2006, when seven of us spent 10 days in the Holy Land.

Our various activities were memorable but I will concentrate here on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. We had supper in an Arabic tented restaurant named Shepherds Fields Valley before wending our way to the Church of the Nativity. This meal was shared with a family I have known for some years and who have suffered many hardships; for instance their modern house, with others in their street, was shelled without cause in 2001 and following this trauma, mother, father and three young children were forced to live in one room for eight months. For the past six months there has been no income in the family and this supper was a feast for them.

Just before the Mass started the Palestinian President arrived. Behind the altar were a full choir of fifty-plus voices, around 100 Franciscan monks and many bishops, priests and seminarians. wall The Latin Patriarch presided in shining gold vestments. It was a sight and scene worthy of Christ’s Birthday – the The Wall around Bethlehem Mass was magnificent and the singing exquisite. The Patriarch’s homily was inevitably of a political nature, with references to the troubles within and around the Holy Land, but his message to all – the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as well as those of the international community – was one of peace, wisdom and justice. He called upon us all to “examine our conscience in light of the goodness God has put in each of us, in all of us, political leaders, adversaries on both sides, militias, those who are classified as extremists and terrorists, those who claim to speak in the name of God, and all those who say they want peace. All are invited to examine their conscience in order to enter a new path that puts an end to bloodshed, death and, in these days, to new internal quarrels. In this way, peace will come about and all human beings will regain their dignity without any additional blood being shed”. And he implored all Christians around the world to pray “in order to bring a new period in our history”.

On reflection, the Mass itself was as spiritually uplifting as on the two previous occasions but the traumas and hassles surrounding it made one feel it is no longer an experience for more mature and less energetic folk. But we all felt quite strongly afterwards that any discomfort we experienced was nothing compared to the daily suffering and privation affecting the Palestinians. It is a humbling experience to be among them and with them and yet it is not disheartening. Their hardship seems to provide them with a faith and strength to be respected and admired.

Palestinian children in school

Palestinian children in school

This was my sixteenth visit to the Holy Land in six years, all of that time within the period of the current intifada. I came away this time with more feelings of sadness and pessimism than ever before. I think it is the monstrous wall that causes the most anger and depression. However there is one thing particularly that makes me go back as frequently as I can – the children who are a joy to behold and just being there with them raises hopes and gives every incentive to help them and their families. For those who have never visited, I beg you to go – you will not be disappointed and you will definitely want to return. For those who have been already, please go back as often as you can.

Above all, these oppressed and deprived peoples desperately need our prayers and the Latin Patriarch’s plea for prayer should not be ignored. Surely it is not too much to ask of every Christian to say a prayer daily for their kindred spirits in the Holy Land.

Madaba Visit

Patricia Richardson, a Trustee of CNT, writes:

At the beginning of October, 2006, I again visited Jordan. Whilst there, I visited many of the Patriarchate schools which have been supported, one way or another by CNT. As usual, I was given a really warm welcome by all, and found in all the schools the usual hive of activity!

The computer lab

The computer lab

One of the towns I visited was Madaba, which lies on the fringes of the desert, overlooking the Dead Computer Room at Madaba Boys’ School – Equipment funded by CNT Sea. Madaba is an ancient town mentioned in the Old Testament as the Moabite town of Medeba. Nearby is Mount Nebo. There are now four Patriarchate schools at Madaba – the Kindergarten, Elementary, Secondary Boys and Secondary Girls Schools. The Secondary Boys School was of particular interest to me, as CNT has recently made a substantial donation towards new computers for their computer laboratory. The school has an excellent academic record, and the new head teacher, Mr. Issa Massar, proudly showed me round his school. The computer lab is now well-furnished up to Government standards, and Mr Massar expressed great gratitude to CNT for our input. However, there are still not enough computers to meet the needs of all the students, and it is envisaged that another computer lab will be built when funding is available.

All the schools I visited were extremely grateful for the help provided by CNT, and all, like Oliver Twist, asked for more! I had to let them down gently and tell them that unfortunately, we do not have an endless supply of funds, but would continue to do what we can. One of the most valuable ways of support is by twinning our Catholic schools and parishes with those in Jordan, and this is what I now try to encourage. I do hope you can help!

Misdar Project

A Pilgrimage with a Purpose

Fr Seamus Keenan

Fr Seamus Keenan

In October 2005, Fr Seamus Keenan (left) took a group of his parishioners on pilgrimage to Jordan, Galilee and Jerusalem, beginning with a visit to Misdar School in Amman. He said “Going on pilgrimage is a natural thing to do after such a project. It is good to meet the Christian students we have been helping”
What was this project? Fr Seamus explains, “Shortly after arriving in the parish of St Joseph’s Bedford in 2003, I initiated a project in support of the Christian community in the Holy Land. This took the form of raising funds to help equip and modernise a computer suite in Misdar School, Amman, Jordan, which falls under the responsibility of the Latin Patriarchate; a project organised through the Cambridge Nazareth Trust.” Back in June,

Fr. Emile Seamus

Fr. Emile Seamus

Fr Emile Salayta (right) came to our parish and told us: “This support means so much to the Christians in the Holy Land who at the moment feel isolated from the Christians in the rest of the world”. This helped us appreciate better the needs of the Church there and spurred us to continue our efforts to help. During the pilgrimage, Margaret Waddingham, a teacher, brought along Barnaby Bear to meet the students at Misdar School in their new computer suite funded by the Bedford Parish.

Barnaby Bear and computer

Barnaby Bear and computer

So how did a small parish raise the money? “Within the space of twelve months we raised £17,000. Our target was £11,700, so I was very pleased at the generous response of the people of the parish.” Various fund-raising activities helped towards achieving this amount: a parish variety concert, an Easter Egg raffle, a parish quiz, a parish dance, as well as other smaller events. The highlight, a sponsored 760 mile bicycle ride to Santiago de Compostela by the curate, Fr Gerard, and two parishioners, raised £4,000.

Suzanne and Michael Moloney on their ride with Fr Gerard

Suzanne and Michael Moloney on their ride with Fr Gerard

The pilgrims received a tumultuous welcome from the students, teachers and parish priest Fr Yacoub. One of the group, Suzanne Moloney, responded by singing the Ave Maria in Arabic. It was a memorable first day and a great start to the pilgrimage.

Fr. Seamus continues: “In conversation with Fr Yacoub, I suggested we keep up the link formed with the school by funding the cost of bringing a few students to Bedford for two weeks in the summer of 2006, staying with families in the parish and attending St Thomas More Upper School, Bedford. This was readily agreed. During our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we not only visited the holy shrines but made contact with the Christian community. We visited the parish of Bir Zeit in the West Bank near Ramallah. I was invited by Fr Aziz to preach the homily at their Sunday Mass. Afterwards we met several parishioners in the parish hall.

Barnaby Bear and Christian children at Bir Zeit

Barnaby Bear and Christian children at Bir Zeit

To my delight, Fr Aziz was able to visit Bedford in November, 2005 with two of his parishioners, and to concelebrate Saturday Mass in our Parish. In all this, not only have we managed to forge links with the Christians in the Holy Land in their need, it has also been beneficial to our parish by way of bringing the people together in our common desire to help our brothers and sisters in the land of Our Lord’s birth, who are the living stones of the Church there, still witnessing to Christ and his gospel.”

In June 2006, three Jordanian students, Fadi, Laith and Tala, with their teacher Amal from Misdar School, Amman, Jordan, travelled to Bedford as guests of St. Joseph’s Parish. This resulted in an action packed fortnight with the Jordanians being hosted by two Bedford families.

Jordanian visitors with the Bishop after Confirmation

Jordanian visitors with the Bishop after Confirmation

The parishioners welcomed their visitors amidst their First Holy Communion and Confirmation celebrations. In the first week of their visit, the Jordanians visited all the Bedford Catholic schools and participated in a day’s retreat at Buckden Towers with sixth formers from St. Thomas More School and enjoyed a trip to the theatre in Milton Keynes to see ‘My Fair Lady’ (all able to understand the idioms). They joined a meeting of St. Joseph’s Youth Group and celebrated a Saturday mass at Walsingham, followed by a dip in the sea at Wells-next-the-Sea.

The second week was organised to give the visitors a wider view of England and the English, with a visit to Cambridge and its colleges, an expedition to Woburn Safari Park and its animals (in Jordanian temperatures) and a whistle stop one day tour of London and its major sights – even Tower Bridge was opened for them. Barbeques (in English temperatures!) and shopping expeditions were slotted in as well.

Here are some of the group’s own special memories…
St Joseph’s church is a very peaceful and lovely place where we had very special memories. Experiencing Mass in English was great as we learnt how to glorify God in another language.  The Youth group of St Joseph’s is so friendly. We loved meeting and sharing with them and with Fr. Seamus.

The Jordanian visitors with Head and students from St. Gregory's Middle School

The Jordanian visitors with Head and students from St. Gregory’s Middle School

Attending other schools was really exciting. Seeing and knowing how children behave and learn was magnificent as dealing with children in our opinions is very difficult and having the opportunity to discuss about our school in the Holy Land was great.
Attending St Thomas More Catholic School was really a very exciting experience. We learnt about the way schools in England do work.
It was different to us, we were surprised by the big school, the educational system. The warm welcoming of the staff and the students was a great motivation for us to learn more.
The parish of St Joseph’s was such big and second family for us. We felt very comfortable as everybody was very welcoming to us and wanted to know more about the Holy Land, which gave us the opportunity to communicate with others. They deal with us as we are their children and there are no words can express our feelings for them.

In February 2008,years seven and eight at St. Gregory’s School, also in Bedford, organised another fund raising appeal in Lent, which raised over £300. The staff and pupils at Al Ashrafieh are so grateful for their generosity of spirit, kindness and support. A laudable example of ‘Children helping Children’.

Leap of Faith

Jumping for Christian Children in the Holy Land

parasupTony Ockenden OBE, aged 77, who has been to the Holy Land many times in recent years, said tonyparachampagnethat he had always wanted to do a parachute jump and decided 2005 was the year to get on and do it. His family rallied around sponsoring him for a tandem parachute jump at Hinton Sky Diving Centre, near Brackley, Northants on 14 June, 2005.

diversoutlined3

Caroline Smith and her (then) fiance, Tom Morris, also jumped with him on a memorable day that raised £5,000 for CNT.  Tony said: “The jump was a truly fantastic experience for me and I feel somewhat guilty to have smithjumpersraised money for an event that was so personally pleasurable. However, as you know, the education of the Christian children in the Holy Land is close to my heart and the Cambridge Nazareth Trust does wonderful work towards that cause. I was particularly grateful that two Head Teachers of Latin Patriarchate schools in Jordan, Sisters Caroline and Lina (below), were able to be present. nunslookingAnd to have more than twenty other family and friends around made the day one I shall not forget in a hurry. I do thank everyone most heartily for their donations and I know the Trustees of the CNT are thrilled with the result.”