Distribution Partners: Caritas Jerusalem / Catholic Relief Services
His Beatitude Fouad Twal is the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and represents the Vatican in the Holy Land. He is also the President of Caritas Jerusalem and oversees much of its humanitarian outreach.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson wrote a letter to His Beatitude to ask for guidance as to the best way to get wheelchairs distributed to the Christians of the Holy Land as well as others in need.
The response was enthusiastic, so the American Wheelchair Mission began working with Caritas Jerusalem and Catholic Relief Services to ship a container of 280 wheelchairs to the Holy Land, sponsored by Knights of Columbus in California, Texas and Florida.
After months of waiting for clearance from Israeli customs, the wheelchairs were delivered to Jerusalem.
The race was now on to distribute the wheelchairs before the rainy season set in, so Knights from California, Texas and Florida flew to Jerusalem to take part in the distribution.
Caritas operates and supports day care centers for the elderly, affordable housing, job training programs and educational support services throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The majority of the people involved in their programs are Palestinian Christians, but all groups are welcome.
At the Caritas Center in Ramallah, a wheelchair like the one we deliver would sell for more than $1,200 U.S. Dollars! This is the wheelchair we can deliver with each $150 donation. The staff and volunteers do as much as they can for the aging population, but much help is needed from us.
One lady told us that her family has secured the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Beit Jala since it was built in the 1850’s and her ancestors go back much farther than that. She said, “We are the descendants of the first followers of Christ, and we deserve to be able to live in our homeland without fighting for our existence.”
Hala Yousef Totah, a registered nurse at the Caritas Center in Ramallah said, “The gift of wheelchairs provided by the Knights of Columbus has had a major impact on the quality of life for many Palestinian Christians.