Diapers for Refugees Update

Diaper program: Our Diapers for Refugees program is still curtailed by Covid-19 which is severe in the Middle East. There is no access to Western produced vaccines except in Israel and in wealthy Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia.

In Jordan a Chinese vaccine is being used, and our main missions director there has had both shots because of his age. It does not much matter though that he got the shots — because he can’t go anywhere anyway, with most functions in Jordan still shut down.

Iraq is a mess, and I was incredibly surprised that Pope Francis travelled there in March, although I am thankful that he did. Pope Francis called to the attention of the world the plight of Christians in Iraq in a way that the mainstream media in the West has refused to do for decades. The Christian population of Iraq has been decimated since the second occupation by the United States began in 2003.

Despite the difficulties, there are successes in places such as Bethlehem and Beit Sahour in the West Bank.

West Bank: Diapers are being provided for a number of elderly Christians living in a nursing home operated by the Antonian Charitable Organization. And at the House of God shelter for children with special needs, diapers are provided for 24 handicapped children suffering from mental and physical problems. The shelter provides the children alternative nonstop care. Third, the Greek Orthodox Church in Beit Sahour (Shepherds’ Field) received diapers to help 10 vulnerable elderly individuals living in poverty and in need of daily necessities. Many of these vulnerable adults are residing in the St. Nicholas nursing home in Bethlehem.

Jordan: Because the adult diapers are so expensive and the need is so great, we cannot do mass distributions. Each case of need is looked at by our ministry partner in Jordan. Just one example is an elderly Christian woman who lives in the town of Safout. She suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and had a stroke that caused paralysis. She is unable to move. Diapers and wet wipes are provided to her daughter regularly to care for her.

There are dozens more cases of Christians in such need, many of them refugees from the Iraq and Syria wars that have injuries that cause them to be unable to control their bladder or bowels. There is no medical aid for refugees other than from relief agencies. Jordan, just like Lebanon, is simply too poor to care for the medical needs of refugees.

Iraq: Our Diaper program for Assyrian Christians displaced from their homes and jobs in northern Iraq costs out at over $13,000 per month and includes diapers for unemployed Christian families with infants and elderly who have no other place to go for the diapers they need so badly.

Back to “normal.” I am not sure what normal will be like in six months or one year. I would like to see the Diaper program back to distribution centers as it was before. In Iraq, Jordan and the West Bank diapers must be delivered to homes and care centers because of government restrictions. This makes our work difficult, demanding and exposes workers to illnesses.

Diapers Slow Due to COVID-19, Food Program Arises

Diapers for Refugees: The Covid-19 situation and continued lockdowns in the Middle East have stalled much of our Diapers for Refugees efforts, particularly in Iraq. Lockdowns are a real problem for many ministries operating in Middle East nations. Because medical care is so limited in some, the only solution the governments can seem to come up with is lockdowns.

A reality check: California had nearly total lockdowns with even public parks and beaches closed. Florida had virtually no lockdowns. The result? The numbers of infections per 100,000 residents were almost exactly the same in both California and Florida.

Charts of month infection rates shows the two states as almost identical although Florida had fewer cases of Covid-19 and fewer hospitalizations per one million residents than California overall. The lockdowns did little to help, and many people were infected in their homes by someone that had to work.

It isn’t getting better in the Middle East because many of those nations cannot afford to buy any Covid-19 vaccines. They do lockdowns instead making economic measures worse.

Because of the lockdowns our Diapers for Refugees program came to a halt except inside some churches. In the Iraqi city of Dohuc we have one church distributing infant diapers, and the Assyrian Aid Society distributing both infant diapers and adult diapers to the neediest Christians.

Our diaper and food programs in the areas of the Holy Land controlled by the Palestinian Authority continue, but again the number of cases there continues to climb.

Although Israel had inoculated over half its population by mid-February, only 5,000 doses of vaccine had made their way to the West Bank where 2.9 million Palestinians live. None of the 5,000 vaccine shots were given to Christians in the West Bank. (Note: Our worker there, and his entire family have already suffered from Covid-19. )

The Christian population of the West Bank has dropped under Palestinian Authority control and is now about 50,000, far too few to maintain a self-sustaining population.

We have a food program for those Christian families most in need in Bethlehem and in the Christian town of Beit Sahour. Each month our worker and volunteers deliver packages of food to impoverished Christian families.

Lists of families in great need are obtained from churches and each has a story.

One of the families consists of a widow who has 5 children. Her husband died 10 years ago at the age of 35 due to cancer. She was left all alone to raise and provide for her 5 children.

Another family we help consists of a widow named Nadia, 71 years old, living with her 2 sons. Her eldest son is 50 years old and is unable to work due to being almost completely blind. He can only see within a yard and with a blurry vision. The other son has been handicapped most of his life and unable to move his body on his own at all.

Nadia is now unable to work due to her age and physical health and is constantly in need of support as there isn’t any source of income for the family. When we knocked on her door and provided her with
the food packages and told her that we will see her in a month, she was both confused and happy, with tears in her eyes that she was holding back in front of us.

There is no help for Christian families such as these from the Palestinian Authority. In the next newsletter I will share more stories of these families with you.

William J. Murray, President

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