Recently, the latest census information was analyzed and data released to the press. One surprising bit of information was the fact that nearly 35% of the population lives in two-bedroom apartments. We have seen families of eight people living in such cramped quarters. Children share one room with bunk beds (some three high), and the more children, the less floor space as beds are crowded into the small rooms. Generally these same people are amongst those who live in poverty and cannot afford…
…even basic home improvements. Many of the programs of Bridge for Peace help people in this segment of society. Many are new immigrants who are sponsored on our Adoption Program. Many receive food from us. Some have children on our Feed a Child Program. All are amazed that Christians care enough about them to do something to change their bleak reality.
This is a story of how three of our programs worked together to bless a family. It all started with Hanan Buhbout, a 10-year-old boy we’ve sponsored on our Feed a Child Program for three years. Hanan’s mother, Eti, is a single mother of five boys. One is married and lives elsewhere, but five were sharing a two-bedroom apartment in a poor, run-down neighborhood. A small balcony had been enclosed for sleeping space but with only room for a bed.
Eti is from Morocco and works hard cleaning houses to support her family. Many Jewish families made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel from Morocco in the 1950s. Though her surroundings are poor, Eti works hard to keep her home clean and as attractive as her budget allows.
One of Hanan’s sponsors from Canada was coming to Israel on a tour and wanted to meet Hanan. The meeting took place in the Buhbout home. After returning back to Canada, the sponsor wrote the BFP Canada office that he wanted to give CND $1,000 to help renovate the Buhbout apartment. He, no doubt, noticed the plaster and paint peeling off the walls and ceilings.
Even with the money, the Feed a Child Program did not have the resources—in staff or materials—to take on such a project, but the Home Repair team was well-suited for this. However, they were only a staff of two, so the Touching Hearts and Lives Program (an internal program which allows our staff to spend time in community service) was called in to help. They visited the apartment and made a list of everything that was needed.
It was a three-day project with a small team of three workers. They took out a wall in the living room to make the balcony-bedroom larger and built a new wall, replaced some missing tiles at the kitchen sink, and scrapped, plastered, and painted all the walls and ceilings in the apartment—no small job. Plus, the apartment was on the fourth floor, so everything, including the heavy sheet rock (wall board) had to be carried up the stairs.
After the project was completed, Vincent Ritola, a young volunteer from the US working with Home Repair, wrote about his experience: “Working on the project was such a great experience. Through working and painting and smiles and ’good mornings,’ the divisions of religions, ethics, and skin colors were painted over with love and kindness. This is exactly what Bridges for Peace aims to do—spread God’s glory through our actions and works. We aim to SHOW people that Christians care for Israel and love God’s people. It was an honor to be part of Home Repair and a blessing to see it at its fullest. At the end of the project, the son of the family that we helped called me Bro, despite the fact we never talked [no shared language]. It was encouraging to hear he considered me a brother despite our vast differences.”
Harley and Meir, who work with the Beit Shemesh Foundation in connection with the Feed a Child Program, went by to see the work and said, “You’ve brought light into a dark place.” Eti did not know how to express her great thanks in words but invited the entire work crew, as well as myself, my husband Tom, and Pieter Marais (Israel Operations Director) to a little dedication celebration with a tea.
We walked up to a dilapidated building and then up four flights of dingy stairs. The whole atmosphere was downtrodden and depressing. However, when we arrived at Eti’s apartment and she opened the door, we were so blessed to see the light, airy, fresh apartment. Our team indeed brought light into a dark place.
Many more families like this can be blessed with Christian care and compassion if we have the funds. Is God moving your heart to give? If so, then please be generous. Many are living in dark places, and God wants to bring them light. Are you a skilled painter, plumber, electrician, mason? Why not consider coming to volunteer for a time in Israel. Team members maintain the ministry buildings and also repair homes for the needy in the community. Together, we are making a difference.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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