The House of the Child in Bethlehem and the fruits of a mission accomplished with love

Posted on Mar 8, 2019

In the shade of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, there is this place, which God has certainly selected for these who are some of his beloved children!

This is the House of the Child, a house that welcomes children with difficult family conditions.

Founded in 2007, it has the special support of the Custody of the Holy Land through the American Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land.

Fr MARWAN DI’DES, ofm Director of the House of the Child “The activities of the House of the Child are not extraordinary activities, they are activities which are found in every small house around the world, where we try to give, to take the place of parents, father, mother, for all the children who come to live here.”

They have time for everything: eating, studying, playing and….not only that!

Fr MARWAN DI’DES, ofm Director of the House of the Child “In my opinion, the most important thing that we give to the kids of the House of the Child is attention. We pay a lot of attention to every little detail of their lives. From the food they receive in the refectory to their clothes, to their need to be heard, to their need to be helped, to have someone to look up to.”

The words of these kids prove that the House is on the right track! “This house is better than mine because it encourages me to study. Life here is very nice and comfortable. When I grow up I want to be a cop, but I still don’t know if it’s a good idea.”

“I didn’t do well at school, but when I got here I got better. We are well treated and everything is organised; if I will have the opportunity to study, I want to be a teacher or an engineer”.

Over the past twelve years since its foundation, the House has welcomed more than 100 children, many of whom have grown up, have overcome their difficulties and are now starting to see a wonderful future for themselves! This is a point of reference for them, who, even as adults, come back here! And we met some of them…

Nadim is a boy who personally came to ask to live here!

NADIM ANDONIA Kitchen Chef “I came here in 2008, after the death of my father. I had pleasant moments with Br Marwan, I finished high school and then started working in the kitchen. Now I teach at the Holy Land School.”

Fr MARWAN DI’DES, ofm Director of the House of the Child “He was at the House of the Child for the whole seven years, he went to the University, he finished his education as a Chef, he worked at the House of the Child for a couple of years as a chef and now he is the director of a restaurant quite famous here!”

This other Nadim arrived at the House when he was a teenager…the friar told us that he was a very good boy but he was not doing well at school… his difficulty was due to the complications experienced by his parents…

NADIM MUSSALLAM Mathematician “I didn’t do well at school, but I improved here because of how the House cared about me until I finished high school. Afterwards, Father Marwan was always like a father to me, and he helped me during my university studies, where I specialised in mathematics and physics. Two years ago I became a teacher.”

Iskandar has also been successful in life! The seeds of the simple prayers recited here before meals or before going to sleep fell into his heart…and blossomed! Today he is studying theology!

SKANDAR SALAMEH Theology student “My father enrolled me in this school, I was not doing well at school, I lived here seven years until I finished my studies and then I entered the University of Bethlehem and I started studying Theology. I’m also studying Italian and I plan to continue my academic life in Italy.”

The eyes of these boys radiate light… the same light that two years ago led them to a strong experience. They were having a convivial time and were offered a VIP menu in a restaurant… the owner of the restaurant surprised Father Marwan.

Fr MARWAN DI’DES, ofm Director of the House of the Child “She said – speaking of herself – that she grew up in a shelter house in the United States or in some other country abroad, where she saw only darkness in front of her, but when she saw my boys she saw so much light in their eyes that she understood that we are doing a good job with them.”

God Himself gives this light to each of them – through the House of the Child – the hope of a better future!