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.

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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.

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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”.

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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!