“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives”
Isaiah 61:1, NIV
When we look at the world, we can see that many people are living in different forms of captivity. For people in East Jerusalem and Gaza, captivity means living everyday experiencing the trauma of being caught in the middle of a conflict zone.
As is usually the case, the most vulnerable people in places of war and conflict are women and children. For Palestinians, it is no different. The women suffering from breast cancer who we support through the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza face not only the physical hardships associated with their illness, but also cultural and political barriers which make their situation even more difficult.
It is the same for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. They live with the constant challenge of poverty, violence, harassment from armed soldiers, displacement from their home, and even arrest. Such an atmosphere creates a high risk of mental health, behavioural and development problems in these fragile, young lives.
These children are born into this situation and are captive to it. Freedom for them means being allowed the opportunity to be children; to play, to learn and to experience the unconditional support and love that every child deserves.
When Jesus quotes the above verse from Isaiah, he does so with a heart of compassion for all those who are trapped and oppressed, and it is clear we are to follow his example.
For many decades, the Spafford Children’s Center in East Jerusalem has provided support for traumatised children. Programs at the centre allow children to thrive through learning, speech and occupational therapy; play, drama, art, dance and music. And it is all done in an environment of deep support and affirmation.
Our Easter Appeal this year focuses on providing release for children whose health and wellbeing is held captive by conflict and trauma.
Will you help these children to flourish?
Jesus uplifted children, publicly affirming them. He knew the importance of allowing children to thrive. When they are harassed, like they often are today in East Jerusalem, some develop anxiety, anger and behavioural problems. These are all symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
The Spafford Children’s Center, however, is following the example of Jesus by showing these children how important they are, providing freedom for children held captive by trauma.
The centre also runs programs for parents and teaches them techniques for supporting their children’s development. This helps build peace and warmth in their families. The centre is an oasis in a desert of conflict and chaos that is the norm for children in that part of the world.
Such an oasis is what Isaiah proclaims; he visualises a new creation in which all children will thrive. It will be a creation in which the people “shall not labour in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord.”
It is this ancient vision from the Old Testament prophet that the Spafford Children’s Center is bringing to reality today. And you can be a part of it by supporting our Easter Appeal.
We invite you to be part of this vision by supporting our Setting the Captives Free Easter Appeal. Please donate via the button below.
Just as importantly, please continue in prayer for their work in what is a very stressful environment.
When Jenan first came to the Spafford Children’s Center, she was showing distinct signs of trauma. She was painfully shy, didn’t want to interact with other children, and refused to talk or cooperate with any of the therapists. She was enrolled in occupational therapy sessions to help her make sense of and cope with everyday activities.
The first few times she attended, she would stay near the door, kicking and crying for her mother. However, she now comes to the sessions feeling excited and very happy to be there.
Jenan’s native language is Arabic, and when she first came to the centre, she struggled with pronunciation and couldn’t say her mother’s name clearly. After speech pathology, she can say it, which gives her more confidence!
When George’s mother brought him to the Spafford Children’s Center, he was in third grade at school, but far behind his peers, lacked confidence and didn’t want to participate.
On arrival, George was scheduled to be tested on his maths skills, but he refused to cooperate. He was timid and always scared of making mistakes.
George’s teacher tried various ways of encouraging him, creating games and competitions with other students and allowing him to solve questions on the blackboard. It didn’t take long for George’s confidence to increase significantly, and for him to engage with learning and become motivated to solve the problems.
Today, George is a more confident boy. He is friendly with other students in his class and is proud to show his father his achievements. He often asks his father to take photos of activities or games he participates in.
The Spafford Children’s Center (SCC) is a beacon of hope for children living in East Jerusalem suffering trauma from living with the stress of conflict. Children in this environment will often experience emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties.
The SCC is a place where children and their parents can receive treatment and become more resilient to their difficult surroundings.
Our work in East Jerusalem with the Spafford Children’s Center is funded solely through your generous donations.
The Ahli Arab Hospital is known in Gaza as being a place where women with breast cancer can receive support for emotional stress they experience living in a conflict zone with the disease.
Our work in Gaza with the Ahli Arab Hospital is funded in part by the Australian Government’s ANCP (Australian NGO Cooperation Program). We are proud to partner with the Australian Government in delivering this life-changing initiative.
– All photos used are supplied by the Spafford Children’s Center (SCC), with the permission of parents and guardians. They are all receiving, or have received therapy at the SCC. The children in the stories aren’t identified in the photos to preserve their privacy.
– Money raised through this appeal will go towards our work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (in Gaza and East Jerusalem). To read more about the work of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza click here. To read more about the work of the Spafford Children’s Center, click here.
Please donate to our Easter Appeal via the button below (select the first choice ’01. 2020 Easter Appeal’ in the drop down menu on our donate page).
Otherwise, you can call us on 1800 249 880, or send us a cheque/money order (made payable to Anglican Overseas Aid) to the address below.
Anglican Overseas Aid
PO Box 389
Abbotsford, VIC, 3067