West Bank Program Update

Bethlehem and the West Bank: Over the past few months I have referred to our “adult” diaper program in Beit Sahour and Bethlehem, and we do assist many older adults there who are in special needs housing. Often a bed and food are provided, but there is little money for medical care or expensive adult diapers.

Adult diapers we supply in Bethlehem

There is a second category of diaper recipients who are neither infants nor adults. These are children who are no longer young enough for baby diapers but still in need of diapers because they are unable to take care of their own sanitary needs.

The special diapers for these children, ranging in age from three years up to early teens, are very costly in the “West Bank.”

Much of the cost has to do with taxes. We pay no tax for diapers purchased in most areas such as Iraq because of the tax exempt status of our partners. But in areas such as Bethlehem we are forced to pay a double tax. Everything in Bethlehem has both an Israeli and Palestinian Authority tax. These taxes increase the cost drastically.

I have been working hard to find ways around paying the taxes so we can help more children and adults in critical need.

We purchase Holders Brand for handicapped children and youth. These are special diapers designed for the handicapped and are very costly even before the double tax. The small diapers are 40 cents each, medium 48 cents each and large 59 cents each. Overall the average is 50 cents each and we supply three diapers per day or $45 a month on average.

The cost may sound high, but it isn’t. This is about the same cost as bulk boxes of adult diapers from Costco in the United States. Without the double tax in the West Bank the cost would be much less than the Costco price in the USA. Without the tax we could buy more and help more special needs Christians who are in poverty.

There are many special needs children and youth on our waiting list. Please pray that costs can be lowered so we can help more special needs Christians in poverty in the Holy Land.

In Bethlehem our diaper program is called Heart for the Persecuted Church, not Diapers for Refugees, because these Christians are not refugees. Some of these families likely have ancestors who saw in person the Apostles, and maybe even the Lord Jesus.

Israel is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but Bethlehem and the Christian villages in the West Bank are not in Israel. In Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, Christians live in fear and poverty. I am doing my best to gather support for these deprived Christians.

Diapers for Refugees and COVID-19

Our Diapers for Refugees program continues to function in most areas other than Iraq, where there are continuing problems because of Covid-19.  Notably in Jordan we have expanded the distribution of adult diapers to more elderly and special needs people in need. Most of those are either Iraqi or Syrian refugees who do not qualify for any aid from the Jordanian government, as they are not citizens.

The diaper program has also expanded in the West Bank areas of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. Adult diapers continue to be given at a Christian care center there, but we have also ordered diapers for a Christian orphanage that takes in severely handicapped children. As the children there are older, more expensive diapers are required.

Please pray for all affected by Covid-19. Please pray for our continued mission to persecuted Christians, in particular the children.

Bethlehem, Diaper Program and the Coronavirus

William and Nancy Murray at the entrance to Grotto of the Nativity

New Diaper Program: The coronavirus was introduced to the Bethlehem area by Christians on a pilgrimage from South Korea. No infections were reported until more than two weeks after they left.

Some areas of the Church of the Nativity are small, such as the Grotto of the Nativity. Often areas of the church are very crowded, with virtually no fresh air.

My wife and I have been there many times and in 2017 came across a large group of Korean Christian pilgrims who were singing beautiful hymns in one of the chapel areas.

This year the Korean Christian pilgrims who were infected before leaving Korea also ate at the breakfast buffets this Middle Eastern area of the world is well known for. That is an example of the complexity of a virus spreading.

The situation in the West Bank comes just as we had begun a diaper program at a nursing home for very elderly Christians who are in need of constant medical aid. A local charity provides the beds and medical care, but families must bring in adult diapers which are very expensive there. There is no state program there such as Medicare. The elderly are on their own.

The adult diaper program will be a small start for us, as there are only 30 residents of the nursing home. Almost half do not have family members who can afford the diapers and must depend on occasional gifts. We would assure them a monthly supply.

Please be in prayer for those in the nursing home there. Many of those who died of the coronavirus in Washington State were from just one nursing home.

For now all we can do is pray that funds will be available to wire to those carrying out our programs and that sanity will return to the American financial system somehow.

William J. Murray, President

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