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 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.

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