Robert Herr appointed new NPI president

Robert HerrOn July 9 I joined Nazareth Project’s staff following Berry Friesen’s resignation so he could give his full-attention to an unexpected personal medical challenge.  We are all concerned for Berry’s recovery and hope the work he took up as an interim President can go forward.  So, I was asked to support this work, especially new initiatives from NPI’s Board of Directors.   It is not hard for me to see the value in this work, and I’m pleased to have an opportunity to contribute in this way.

Over the years, the core supporters of NPI have been health practitioners, many of whom worked in or visited Israel and Palestine.  Thanks to this group of people nearly $4 million has been provided to support the Hospital in Nazareth, Israel during the past quarter century.

To continue this important work, even more supporters are needed.  The long work to provide contemporary medical services to a diverse and frequently conflicted community relies much on the presence of  this long-valued Hospital.  Its story is very compelling and NPI aims to fill many of these needs.  I expect our supporters will want to continue to help as they become acquainted with the history and legacy of the Nazareth Hospital. .

My personal story focuses much on work in Africa, with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), to support the work of the church in peacebuilding and emergency relief work.  So, for me it is not difficult to see the work of the Nazareth Hospital as needed and useful.  I led MCC programs in Southern and Eastern Africa for many years, where hospitals provide important support to the communities they serve.

The Nazareth Hospital, however, provides much more than a medical service.  Its core mission, for the past 150 years is, certainly, physical healing, but it also holds up the message and image of God’s peace in the midst of diverse religious communities and traditions.  It is an encouragement to the Arabic-speaking community of the Galilee, enabling this community especially to be more resilient and resourceful, better able to seek reconciliation and pursue peace.  The peace of Christ by following the way of Jesus is a vision for the healing of all nations.  And the nations of  the Middle East are today seeking a peace and reconciliation message as much as any time in the past.

I hope to bring the experience and understanding I have accumulated to this important work.  Thankfully, NPI staff also includes Karen Miller Rauch, continuing as our Grants Administrator and Jason Allgire as our Operations, Communications and Events Coordinator.   We look forward to talking with you soon about widening our circle of support.

Elias Chacour — Peace, Reconciliation, Respect, and Justice

Elias Chacour with NPI Board Member Bonnie Zehr

Elias Chacour with NPI Board Member Bonnie Zehr

Elias Chacour, the Palestinian Christian who has dedicated his life to making peace inside Israel, brought his testimony and witness to a Nazareth Project luncheon April 11 in Wilmington, DE.

Speaking to a group of 25 Nazareth Project supporters who traveled to Wilmington for the occasion, Abuna Chacour (as he is affectionately known) spoke of his struggle to build and maintain a school for Muslim, Jewish, Druze and Christian children and youth in Ibillin, a town in Galilee (northern Israel).

The Israeli government has repeatedly blocked his efforts (usually by denying permits to build), but Chacour has persisted.  Today, more than 3,000 students attend the private schools Chacour began.  Together, they are known as the Mar Elias Educational Institutions.

As Chacour puts it, “the future of the villagers in Ibillin, of the citizens of the state of Israel, and indeed the future of all of God’s children in the Holy Land, depend on educating the young in the ways of peace, reconciliation, respect, and justice.”

Chacour is well acquainted with Nazareth Hospital and School of Nursing. He spoke highly of its work and expressed appreciated for the steadfast support Nazareth Project  has provided.

During the Q & A that followed, Chacour spoke candidly of the “second class” citizenship Palestinians hold in Israel.  Yet he also cautioned against any form of animosity against Jews, whom he consistently refers to as “brothers.”

“We belong to this land together—Christian, Muslim, Druze and Jew,” he said.  “To Americans, I say:  we welcome your support and personal involvement, but not if it comes with hostility toward any of our neighbors.”

NPI to administer Grant to Nazareth Hospital for Pediatric Equipment

Good news! Our investment of hard work over many hours has produced good fruit! Our most recent grant application on behalf of Nazareth Hospital was successful. Thanks be to God! The $500,000 award will come from USAID’s American Schools and Hospital’s Abroad (ASHA) program. All funds will go directly to improve and expand Nazareth Hospital’s Pediatric Services.

Doctor_childNazareth Hospital EMMS is the only provider of Pediatric surgery services in Nazareth, Israel. Weekly, a team of its staff travels to at-risk communities in the West Bank. The team conducts medical tests for children in a field clinic and distributes first aid and hygiene supply kits.

Expanded Pediatric capabilities will serve the needs of Palestinian children and youth and open the door for Residency training in Pediatric Surgery and Medicine. A Pediatric residency program at Nazareth Hospital will foster professional partnerships between Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and their colleagues living in Israel.

CURE International will advise on the operational expansion of the Nazareth Hospital’s Pediatric Orthopedic surgical capabilities to reach marginalized children in the West Bank. CURE doctors have extensive experience in addressing Clubfoot and the international organization will dedicate competent staff and sufficient management time to ensure that the partnership with Nazareth Hospital EMMS is a success.