Lifegate in Octo­ber 2021

2. November 2021

A golden Octo­ber in every sense of the word. It is still nice and warm during the day and Jeru­sa­lem unfolds its beau­tiful, warm (golden) colours, espe­ci­al­ly at sunset in autumn. The nights cool down and the first jumpers and jackets are brought out. Flocks of migra­to­ry birds in the sky, espe­ci­al­ly in the Syri­an-Afri­can Rift Valley, that runs through our coun­try from Eilat in the south to the Hula Valley in the north, announ­ce that winter will soon be upon us. . It is the time of ener­gy saving, where there is no need for cooling in the Lifegate buil­ding, but also no need for heating yet, and our elec­tri­ci­ty bill looks much friend­lier. Peop­le are on their way to harve­st the olives and then press a tasty oil. Our oil deli­very to Germa­ny is also in prepa­ra­ti­on and once again we were able to increase the quan­ti­ties and also work on refi­ne­ments of our oil. . A month with many acti­vi­ties in our house and wonderful surpri­ses. The first visi­tors announ­ced them­sel­ves after almost two years – we are curious if they will real­ly arri­ve. Accor­ding to offi­ci­al news, the coun­try should open again in Novem­ber. Many peop­le who somehow earned their living with and around tourism are eager­ly waiting. We are one of them and look forward to welco­ming groups of visi­tors, volun­teers and guests in Lifegate Garden. We are happy to report on some autum­nal high­lights in October.

´Mobi­li­ty is quali­ty of life”

The Lifegate Aids Depart­ment with our Ameri­can ‘wheel­chair angel’ Richard Stephan is curr­ent­ly working with the help of two other orga­ni­sa­ti­ons to adapt and distri­bu­te wheel­chairs and aids to various places in the coun­try. A contai­ner of wheel­chairs is alre­a­dy on its way from the USA and Richard has alre­a­dy provi­ded the first child­ren with our old stock of aids. Each aid is indi­vi­du­al­ly adapt­ed and tail­o­red to the chil­d’s disa­bi­li­ty by Richard with great love and care. Our experts from the Lifegate locks­mit­h’s shop, the carpen­ter’s shop and the shoe and leather repair shop help diligently.


‘New service’

The Lifegate Aids Depart­ment is very well known in the Beth­le­hem area and many peop­le turn to us to get aids and also to repair them. Howe­ver, if we look in other areas of the West Bank, even in the larger cities, peop­le there neither find the aids nor the possi­bi­li­ties to get for exam­p­le defec­ti­ve wheel­chairs repai­red. Often, peop­le’s mobi­li­ty falls by the waysi­de until perhaps a fami­ly member sets out to seek help.

We are ther­e­fo­re very plea­sed that, with the help of the Socie­ty for Inter­na­tio­nal Coope­ra­ti­on, we are able to set up an outpa­ti­ent aid and repair service for peop­le throug­hout the Pales­ti­ni­an terri­to­ry, in addi­ti­on to the ortho­pae­dic work­shop. A service vehic­le equip­ped for this purpo­se will travel to various places in the coun­try, where orga­ni­sa­ti­ons working with us, will cont­act peop­le in need of aids in advan­ce and call them in. Our team can take ‘measu­re­ments’ on site and bring an adapt­ed wheel­chair with them on their next visit, for exam­p­le. Aids are to be repai­red on site and repla­ce­ment chairs issued until the origi­nal chair can be made usable again in Lifegate. Hospi­tal beds, walking aids and many other aids are also made available to peop­le in need through a lending system. A new employee and two trai­nees are working on this project. The lives of many peop­le who previous­ly had no access to aids or whose wheel­chairs no longer work becau­se of a defect, are to recei­ve important help. At the same time, we want to raise the stan­dard in the coun­try with our high-quali­ty assis­ti­ve devices. Our efforts may also lead to the estab­lish­ment of perma­nent aid centres in central loca­ti­ons with the help of local peop­le and organisations.

‘Neigh­bour­hood aid’

In line with all these acti­vi­ties, the Israe­li aid orga­ni­sa­ti­on ‘Yad Sarah’, with whom we have been on friend­ly terms for years, dona­ted used aids and wheel­chairs in good condi­ti­on. This help will enable many child­ren and young peop­le to have a better quali­ty of life.

‘Small steps into a new life’

As announ­ced in Septem­ber, our new ortho­pae­dic tech­ni­ci­an Jonas Wein­holz has arri­ved in good shape and has put the work­shop set up by his prede­ces­sor Simon Röss­ler into opera­ti­on. Jonas star­ted making the first ‘ortho­pae­dic splints’ for child­ren at Lifegate With this fitting, feet can be correc­ted, child­ren can come to stand and maybe even learn to walk. What beau­tiful perspec­ti­ves, we are very grateful for these possibilities!

‘News from the group of our child­ren with seve­re and multi­ple disabilities’

Loay is two years old. He is one of triplets. His siblings are healt­hy and deve­lo­ping accor­ding to their age. We met Loay in June this year in a first cont­act meeting. He came with his parents. His mother was very frus­tra­ted as she belie­ved Loay could not do anything and also had litt­le deve­lo­p­men­tal poten­ti­al. . Loay show­ed a one-sided para­ly­sis of his body short­ly after birth. Alre­a­dy in the conver­sa­ti­on, the possi­bi­li­ties of this boy were real­ly clear. So, we offe­red the fami­ly a place in the group for the child­ren who need more care, in order to start support work with the boy as early as possi­ble. Loay has been fully inte­gra­ted in the group since Septem­ber. Since then, he has deve­lo­ped very well. He is very socia­ble. He laughs a lot. He now plays inde­pendent­ly on the mattress, crawls, starts to say some words, stands and walks with help. We have high hopes that Loay may be able to join Life­ga­te’s nursery school next September.

„Team Work“

Amelie, Lilith and Anne­ma­rie, our volun­teers, are sett­ling in well at school, kinder­gar­ten and in the class of child­ren with seve­re disa­bi­li­ties. There was a first meeting with an exch­an­ge of all volun­teers of the sending orga­ni­sa­ti­on DVHL in the coun­try, which our ‘trio’ combi­ned with a trip to the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an Sea. These days, the Arabic lessons at Lifegate star­ted. . During their volun­t­a­ry year, the ladies can chan­ge their place of work in the insti­tu­ti­on every four months in order to get a good over­all pictu­re of our work.

Our pedago­gi­cal advi­sor and super­vi­sor Ange­la Köster has comple­ted her assess­ment phase at the faci­li­ty and will now set her first prio­ri­ties in accom­pany­ing the head of the special school and indi­vi­du­al teachers.

The newly hired Pales­ti­ni­an teachers and thera­pists are also finding their place in the team and are very moti­va­ted to work with the child­ren and young people.

We are prepa­ring an open day for the next month, where we want to invi­te fami­lies of our child­ren but also peop­le from our villa­ge to get to know Lifegate better. The guests should be encou­ra­ged to recon­sider their fears and preju­di­ces towards peop­le with disa­bi­li­ties and to gain new expe­ri­en­ces. A colourful and cheerful program­me should appeal to many peop­le and lead to more togetherness.

‘Off the post’

19 tight­ly packed boxes left for Germa­ny in Octo­ber and we hope that the beau­tiful Lifegate gift items made of cera­mics and olive wood will make it under many Christ­mas trees. This year we were able to make most of the previous­ly purcha­sed products oursel­ves and thus bring our produc­tion to a higher level. We thank our new trai­ner and the young peop­le with diffe­rent disa­bi­li­ties who are lear­ning dili­gent­ly. German friends repor­ted to our delight about Christ­mas markets and bazaars that may take place again this year, where our products will then be offered.

‘The eye eats with us’

Every evening around 6.00 pm, ringing signals from my phone announ­ce the pictu­re gallery of the day from the Lifegate kitchen. Mario, our chef, not only knows his way around a wooden spoon, but also likes to take photos. So, I can’t avoid our kitchen in the Octo­ber report either and include a few pictures of the „magi­ci­ans” from our kitchen trai­ning program­me. Enjoy your meal!

‘Blame it on the chips’

By now, word has spread about the drastic chip shorta­ge in the car indus­try and even our vehic­le dona­ted by friends for trans­port on the Pales­ti­ni­an side is some­whe­re in the world ready for deli­very and waiting for the compu­ter chips, so it can final­ly be ship­ped. Fort­u­na­te­ly, the car was assem­bled for the hospi­tal appoint­ments in Isra­el and on the ground befo­re the chip crisis and is serving us well. That now also the new Lifegate lift is still not running becau­se of the lack of the right compu­ter chip is an ironic coin­ci­dence. Here, too, a reme­dy has been promised.

So, we are thank­ful that at least the crisps are still on our super­mar­ket shel­ves and so we can better cope (nibble) the other­wi­se so sad „chip news” from our reality.

‘We have expe­ri­en­ced a great miracle’

While at the begin­ning of Octo­ber we were still anxious and doubting whether and how we would be able to with­stand the pres­su­re from the seller (to sell the land imme­dia­te­ly) of the neigh­bou­ring proper­ty without losing the land, seve­ral wonderful surpri­ses happen­ed at once. Good friends of our work offe­red us inte­rest-free loans with very conve­ni­ent repay­ment terms. A support­er orga­ni­sa­ti­on of our work conver­ted the loan into a dona­ti­on and also promi­sed us support for the cons­truc­tion of the plan­ned adven­ture world for child­ren with disa­bi­li­ties on this piece of land. Other friends promi­sed to make a strong commit­ment to the purcha­se of further squa­re metres in the near future. This was the signal for us to purcha­se the land now and to pay back the borro­wed sum slow­ly or quick­ly with the help of many friends. We are once again asha­med of our small faith and hear­ti­ly grateful for the many peop­le who trust us, who have helped and will conti­nue to help. May you all recei­ve back in many ways the bles­sings that were given to us! Thank you also on behalf of the child­ren and young peop­le who will bene­fit from this land and our enti­re team in Beit Jala and in Germany!

‘Tradi­ti­ons are important’ – around the olive harvest

The annu­al olive harve­st, which takes place in Octo­ber and Novem­ber, connects gene­ra­ti­ons of peop­le. Young and old can be found under the trees picking the olives by hand as they have done for hundreds of years, or spre­a­ding tarpau­lins under the trees and beating the olives from the trees with sticks and then picking them up. The few modern tools that exist for this harve­s­t­ing (rotors atta­ched to sticks) have not real­ly caught on, as they often dama­ge the trees as well. The joint harve­st, be it only in the small garden or in the olive grove, is accom­pa­nied by lively conver­sa­ti­ons, a deli­cious picnic that has been prepared and the child­ren hear many a story from days gone by. The olives are then taken to one of the oil pres­ses in the villa­ge, which only work during these months – another place of commu­ni­ca­ti­on with many other olive farmers and their fami­lies. Around Beit Jala and in the moun­ta­ins of Jeru­sa­lem we find the remains of old oil pres­ses from the time of the Romans (70–300 BC). Olive trees grow very old and if they could tell stories, we would not be able to stop marvel­ling. If they stand on buil­ding land, they are usual­ly not cut down but trans­plan­ted and sprout again on the new site. They bear abun­dant­ly every second year and rest a litt­le in between. On our poor soils without irri­ga­ti­on in summer, it is a mira­cle how much fruit they bear.

After the harve­st, the trees are trim­med and bran­ches are sawn off, the time when we also buy our olive wood, which is then cut up and has to be stored dry for a year so that it can be proces­sed. This is also how our wood store is filled each autumn and many beau­tiful items are sawn, carved and turned from the previous year’s dry wood in the new year.

The olive tree and its fruits have their place in many bibli­cal stories. The apost­le Paul, for exam­p­le, speaks of the olive tree (the roots) of Isra­el, into which the peop­le who belie­ve in Jesus from the other nati­ons have been graf­ted. The oil was used by the Good Sama­ri­tan to soot­he and heal the wound of the inju­red man and it was used to anoint the kings of Isra­el. In the letter of James we are told to pray over sick peop­le and anoint them with oil. If you had oil and flour in your jars, you could bake bread and survi­ve (The widow and her son and the Prohet Elijah). ). We use the healt­hy olive oil for our salads and our Medi­ter­ra­ne­an and Arabic cuisine and are happy that we can offer it to many peop­le also in Germa­ny (Lifegate Workhop).

…The right clothes to go with it.

At the happy get-toge­ther after the olive harve­st, peop­le also like to show off their very special clothes, which have been lovin­g­ly embro­ide­red by hand and are also part of the Arab tradi­ti­on of our coun­try. Our kinder­gar­ten child­ren brought their ‘best pieces’ from home and were happy about the ‘litt­le jour­ney back in time’. In our Lifegate embro­idery depart­ment, we culti­va­te this old craft and embro­ider the tradi­tio­nal patterns on bags, book covers and garm­ents that peop­le still like to use today. In this way, the ‘good old days’ remain alive with us today.

With the end of Octo­ber, we also said good­bye to daylight saving time, with more light in the morning and earlier dark­ness in the evening. A month we look back on with gratitude.

Thank you all for your commit­ment to the neigh­bou­ring proper­ty, but also for the daily rehabilitation work with child­ren and young peop­le. Thank you for all the pray­ers and bles­sings we recei­ved and were able to pass on! As of today (1.11.2021) tourists are allo­wed to come to our coun­try again, the first groups have also announ­ced their arri­val at Lifegate Garden. Our world may beco­me a litt­le bigger and more colourful again, with the guests from other count­ries. We are looking forward to it! 

We wish God’s bles­sing and greet you warmly


Yours, Burg­hard Schun­kert and the Lifegate Team