All in the Family

A look at the families whose lives have been changed through the generosity of our benefactors.

by Brother David Carroll, F.S.C., Ph.D.

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The United Nations has proclaimed 1994 as the Year of the Family and in response to this proclamation Pope John Paul II noted in his 2 February “Letter to Families” that “this initiative makes it clear how fundamental the question of the family is for the member states of the United Nations.

“The church,” he continued, “shares in the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anxieties of people’s daily pilgrimage, firmly convinced that it was Christ himself who set her on all these paths…Among these many paths, the family is the first and the most important.”

In October the Pope will travel to the United Nations in New York City to speak yet again about families and family life with the delegates of the world’s nations.

For more than 65 years, generous friends and benefactors of Catholic Near East Welfare Association have been on pilgrimage daily with families who have been assisted through our numerous programs and projects. In supporting these activities our friends have built and maintained families and family life in the turbulent world served by our Association.

Consider the story of a young man named Farhan who lives in the village of Byakout in Lebanon. Although he lost both legs during Lebanon’s civil war, he now owns and operates an automobile repair shop. A small grant from our Pontifical Mission’s Beirut office enabled him to purchase tools and an old, badly damaged car to use for spare parts. Now when Farhan starts work, he takes off his artificial legs and ties himself onto a homemade dolly, which was designed for him to slide under vehicles with ease. Farhan’s success has given him the opportunity to marry and begin a family.

Farhan is one of 20 handicapped people who have received grants this year from our Beirut office to improve or start small businesses.

In 1983, the remote village of Majdel Meoush in the Shouf region of Lebanon was part of the war zone. When hostilities ceased in 1991, the 350 families who had fled returned to find the church bulldozed, homes stripped of doors and windows, no electricity, no water and their fruit and olive trees destroyed. These displaced persons were destitute. Now Majdel Meoush and 19 other villages are being rebuilt for displaced families by our Pontifical Mission.

In “the little town” of Bethlehem, the six members of the Tushieh family live in one rented room. The father, a municipal worker, cannot support the entire family on his meager earnings. For the past few years his children have been enrolled in our sponsorship program for children in need. This has given the Tushieh children food and clothing – basics that the head of household could not provide. Now, with financial assistance provided for housing, the Tushieh family is looking forward to moving into a new house. All this in the town where more than 2,000 years ago “there was no room in the inn.”

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