Notre Dame des Douleurs retirement home, a welcome across the wall

Posted on Apr 27, 2018

The center, founded by French sisters in 1957, welcomes and cares for 50 elderly people, whether Muslims or Christians, from Jerusalem and the West Bank. They are cared for by a medical specialists and various assistants. Apart from the sisters, foreign volunteers help out and gain job experience.

In the vicinity of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem stands the Notre Dame des Douleurs retirement home, for 60 years a center of welcome for the elderly. It was founded by the French congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Sorrows, in keeping with the community’s calling to care for those in their senior years.

Director of the Notre Dame des Douleurs home

“Our mission is to welcome all elderly persons, even if they are destitute. Our aim is to take care of them.”

Superior, Community of our Lady of Sorrows

“I have been here for four years, to help and serve the elderly, taking care of all their needs. I hold them very dear, and when I look at them, it is Jesus whom I see.”

Volunteer from France

“I came here two months ago, and will stay for a year. I work as an administrative assistant, but I also help, for example, in feeding the elderly. It is wonderful to work with them, and for me, it is a discovery. I learn a great deal, and the elderly have a thousand stories to tell!”

Guest, Notre Dame des Douleurs

“I am happy here! At home I no longer had anyone to help me, and I wondered where I could go now that I was alone. This is why I came here.”

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(woman AR)
Guest, Notre Dame des Douleurs

“I have no one… My daughter lives in Dubai, and my son is a dentist in Greece. My grandson lives here, but he is ill. Sometimes relatives come to see me and take me out . . . but the sisters who care for us here are very kind.”

Since 2004, daily life in the home has been disrupted by the construction of the so-called security wall, which is nine [metres] in height, and, facing the center, separates Israeli and Palestinian territories.

Director of the Notre Dame des Douleurs home

“The existence of the wall is not easy for us because most of our employees live on the other side, so they have to apply for a permit in order to cross over. This means that it takes a long time to come here in the morning. Before, it took five minutes to arrive, and now two hours, involving much difficulty.”

The wall has not prevented the sisters and the volunteers from continuing to offer their services. Each September 15th, they celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the center, expressing anew their intention to offer a loving service to the elderly of the area, lest they be abandoned.