This year’s Bishop’s Lent Appeal is in aid of the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre, located under the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The centre provides rehabilitative services to children with disabilities from Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza and operates under the umbrella of the Arab Anglican Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. It serves as a place of hope, healing and inclusivity for all. Our Dean, the Very Revd Frances Burberry, has visited the centre on her trip to the Holy Land this time last year, and has shared some of her experiences below. As ever, your generosity is vastly appreciated.
Dean Frances writes,
It was February last year when I visited the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre (JPBC) which is located on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives and operates under the umbrella of the Arab Anglican Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East – under the supervision of the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, Bishop Hosam Naoum – in the fields of health, disability and inclusive education. The JPBC is also a part of the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network and like its near neighbour the Augusta Victoria Hospital, it plays a vital role in the Palestinian Healthcare system.
First established in 1961, when there was a need for physiotherapy services for children with disabilities as a result of polio becoming widespread amongst the Palestinian population, the Centre took its name from Princess Basma of Jordan (sister of King Hussein of Jordan) who inaugurated the building during her visit there in 1966.
The JPBC is an inclusive school, and is also a child rehabilitation centre for disabled children and their families from the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. The school has children from ages 5 to 18, one third of whom are disabled. The rehabilitation centre provides inpatient and outpatient support for children (from birth to age 15) with a range of congenital and neuromuscular conditions including such as autism and cerebral palsy. Both inpatients and outpatients can receive speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, music therapy and psychosocial support. Rehabilitative treatments often involve more than three-week stays at the centre. Children receive individualised rehabilitation programmes and their parents and/ or grandparents are trained as ‘shadow therapists’ to continue the programmes at home, supported by follow-up appointments as needed and/ or telephone consultations with staff at the JPBC.
The JPBC was scheduled to open a new centre inside the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza in November 2023. At the war’s conclusion, that new centre’s services will be more necessary than ever. For not only will thousands of newly maimed children need physical therapy, nearly all of Gaza’s children will also be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and in need of psychological counselling.
On my visit in February 2023, I saw a place which grows hope by offering a lifeline of support, education and rehabilitation; transforming the lives of children with disabilities and empowering their families to care for them.
The JPBC receives financial support for the care of children with disabilities. It is also dependent upon international fundraising to sustain the Centre’s vital and inspiring programmes.
The Very Revd Canon Frances Burberry
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