Unfortunately, we cannot speak of a blissful month of May this time, more of a month in which we were all really shaken; a month that brought Jerusalem, Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Autonomous Territories back into the consciousness of the world public and in which to this day the after-effects for one side or the other can be seen in the demonstrations in many countries. We are frightened by the many anti-Semitic riots, especially in the USA. Why are Jewish people always attacked and made responsible for things that happen in Israel? That happens to no other people in the world and probably has something to do with the darkest chapters in world history. The wounds of these 11 bad days in May are still open, many people here on the Israeli and Palestinian side are very unsettled. You think about your routes carefully and avoid (if you can) to visit cities, streets and residential areas that are classified as dangerous. It helps and is a consolation that there are so many people who join hands, who did not split despite the bad news and who are still on the move for peace and coexistence. We are part of them, as is the Israeli television, which plays many small clips about the common and very important coexistence of Jews and Arabs in this country.
Today (Wednesday May 26th) I was with Hala, who is well on the way to becoming a young lady, and her brother for another check-up appointment at the Israeli Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. It has been one year since Hala’s spine was corrected by an Israeli surgeon. All rods fixed to the spine are stable and all screws are in place, as the current X‑ray confirmed. Hala can now receive therapy again and does not have to be checked again for six months. The surgeon, Dr. Arzi, was very pleased with the good result and Hala’s statement that she is in no pain. A young person is now really uplifted and we are also very grateful for the sign of peace and togetherness in difficult times. At Lifegate, Hala will soon learn to use an electric wheelchair to be independent. She continues to attend our special school and develops in all directions to the delight of the family and our team. She continues to attend our special school and develops in all directions to the delight of the family and our team. (Pictured: Hala and Dr. Arzi before surgery in 2020)
Two new support classes are to be opened in the school after the summer holidays (which start in mid-July and last until the end of August). One class for children with severe multiple disabilities and another class for children with different disabilities, in which there will again be some autistic children. One kindergarten class will also become a school class when the children reach the age of 6. We will shortly be designing the classrooms for the new classes accordingly and are happy to be able to purchase the therapy materials for this expansion through the fundraising campaign in Bergisch Gladbach. This means that the number of special school children who attend one of our 11 classes every day will increase to 134. We would also like to use mixed teams of therapists and teachers in the new classes. Applicants are being interviewed. Applicants are being interviewed. Our on-site financing system enables us to generate part of the necessary funds for on-site staff.
Pictured: New room design for children with the most severe disabilities
Two young men are still giving us a little headache. They will graduate from school this year at the age of 15 and cannot begin appropriate training in our workshops due to their severe physical limitations (CP). Last year we had to lay off two young men from school for the same reason without another perspective. That hurts us very much after all the good years of support in kindergarten and school that we invested, and for the disappointed parents, who probably hoped that their children could stay forever. We now want to sit down with all the parents and discuss ideas in a brainstorming session. In a country without any government support, a purely “protective workshop”, where young people only do simple things, must be fully financed. In addition, workshops in which people with disabilities work (such as in Germany) do not receive any external orders, as local companies themselves are happy if they can use their own work force and do not outsource anything. So we need the appropriate space, brilliant ideas, what these young people could produce in the simplest possible way and a market to sell these products. For the parents, it’s not even about remuneration, but about a sheltered place where their young people can spend a few hours a day so that the family can take a deep breath. Maybe we can win the parents over to a cooperative in which they take responsibility themselves. We are very happy to receive ideas from our readers, also regarding possible products! (Pictured: Zein, a young man with severe spastic paralysis)
Issa, a young man from our training workshops, will now do an internship twice a week in an aluminum company in Beit Jala, which builds windows and doors. In this case, with the help of the parents, we succeeded in winning over the relative owner to give our „trainee” a chance. We very much hope that this internship may lead to a permanent position as an assistant in this company.
More young people will finish their training with us in July and we will report on them as soon as possible.
After two years, our German orthopedic mechanic Simon Rössler’s time also expires in June. We are very reluctant to let go the technically very competent and friendly young man, who helped many children and adults with good orthopedic care. At the beginning of his work, Simon and we had no idea what time was ahead of us with Corona and now also with the political situation. Simon often had to take a break or work from home based on the security assessments made by his employer (GIZ, Federal Foreign Office). Not a round year, rather a big puzzle that he and we had to put together again and again, but we still achieved a nice result. We thank Simon from the bottom of our hearts for his patience, flexibility and great work and the GIZ team for this wonderful support! Pictured: Simon at work. Thank goodness there is an applicant for this field of work for the future, and we would be very happy if it worked.
To our delight, we welcomed the first individual guests in a year to the Lifegate Garden Guesthouse. We are still in the process of working through some of the requirements of the civil protection authorities that contribute to the building security of the guest house. Two emergency stairs from the first floor have to be installed as escape routes to the outside, and some changes are also necessary in the dining room. The work has started and should be completed by mid-June. If, according to the latest reports, the (vaccinated) tourism should be possible again in our country starting June, we hope to be able to welcome guests and visitors soon! Pictured: Lifegate Garden Guesthouse
Thanks to GIZ, the first machines and equipment in our newly built bakery are due to be delivered in June. The entry of a German baker should then be technically possible after the opening of air traffic. We are still looking for a suitable person (who can also be retired), who would enjoy the task to get our bakery going together with a local baker for three months at first (September to November). Pictured: A wooden grain mill from Austria in our bakery.
We are very happy to report that the funds for 1/5 of the neighboring property that we want to acquire have already been donated. This gives us hope and courage to move on and try to find more people to help. Many thanks to everyone who has made this possible! (Pictured: brown earth and olive trees)
We would like to thank you very much for all calls, e‑mails, messages and inquiries and your prayers in the last few weeks! This showed us that we are not alone even in crisis situations and that our friends think of us. That was a great support for us!
Many publications from the Middle East do not always meet with approval in days of conflict. We strive to pass on information from the local free press as a supplement to the foreign media reports and thus invite the reader to get a more comprehensive picture and perhaps to do a little more personal research. However, we do not want to and cannot please everyone with our local information. Of course, these too are sometimes not balanced, and we are confronted with people and emotions in Israel and in the Palestinian territories on a daily basis. We try to avoid accusations, one-sided partisanship and “ingenious solutions”.
We always want to contribute to non-violence, to listening to and getting to know one another and to reconciliation within our small, manageable framework. For many years, Lifegate’s work has been a small but stable bridge between people who are unfortunately often enemies!
I wish us and you from the bottom of my heart the peace that Jesus Christ brought into our world and that is more relevant to me today than ever!
We „chase” after him (Psalm 34:15) and to him God has called us (1 Corinthians 7:15).
Burghard Schunkert and the Lifegate Team