16 July 2014
A worker at the Olive Branch Foundation puts the finishing touches on dove peace lamps.
(photo: Miriam Sushman)
Three years ago, we profiled a village in Palestine, where there was an unsual effort underway to promote peace:
Father Ra’ed’s greatest contribution has been the Olive Branch Foundation, a nonprofit he founded and runs. The business includes a small ceramics factory and most recently an olive press and machinery to make and package olive oil and olive–based soap and cosmetic products from locally grown olives.
The priest’s business endeavors began five years ago, when one day at church he displayed some of his handmade white ceramic lamps in the shape of doves. He filled them with locally produced olive oil, placed them near the altar and encouraged parishioners to light them and pray for peace. Delighted by the “peace” lamps, parishioners quickly spread the word to neighbors from other congregations, and in no time, residents inundated Father Ra’ed with requests for lamps of their own.
Seeing an opportunity to promote peace and generate income for the local community, Father Ra’ed intensified production, hiring a small team of local craftsmen, and began selling the lamps to faithful throughout the region and beyond.
“I use the lamp to put pressure on the heavens to make peace in the Holy Land,” says the priest.
So far, the foundation has produced and sold more than 80,000 lamps, “flying them,” as he says, “around the world like little birds until peace comes.”
Read more about Taybeh, “A Town Named ‘Good’,” in the July 2011 issue of ONE.
15 July 2014
Tags: Palestine Christianity Emigration
Elderly parents in India are increasingly left behind and alone when their
children emigrate overseas. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Yesterday, our daily news summary noted the phenomenon of nurses leaving Kerala for better salaries abroad. It’s an issue we explored in ONE in 2008:
According to the Centre for Development Studies, women now make up 15 percent of all Keralite emigrants and about 28 percent of those emigrants are Christian — a significant increase from 25 years ago.
Nurses in Kerala generally earn less than $1,000 per month. In Delhi, salaries are double and in the Gulf states as much as 10 times that amount. Attracted by these salaries, tens of thousands of Keralite nurses have accepted employment elsewhere in India or overseas. Currently, about 40,000 Keralite nurses work in the Gulf and another 25,000 in Europe and North America.
And emigration, we found, is taking a toll:
Many economists have hailed the Kerala Phenomenon — the common term referring to Kerala’s unique development model that sacrifices industrial production and job growth for a generous social welfare system — for achieving near universal literacy, providing quality health care and promoting greater gender equality. However, if the troubling social trends that have manifested in recent years accurately reflect life in Kerala, it may not be long before experts coin another term: “Kerala Paradox.”
Current statistics indicate that among Keralites rates of alcoholism, depression, suicide, domestic violence and divorce have been spiraling upward. Today, Kerala boasts the highest per capita liquor consumption in India, a suicide rate three times the national average and, in the most recent study, a level of domestic violence that far eclipses the national average. And Kerala’s divorce rate has increased some 350 percent over the last decade. While tough to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between migration and these social ills, surmising one is not difficult.
Read more about Kerala’s Bittersweet Phenomenon in the September 2008 edition of ONE.
14 July 2014
Tags: India Kerala Emigration
Palestinians surround the body of a 10-year-old girl, whom hospital officials said was killed in an Israeli airstrike, during her funeral at a mosque in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip on 11 July.
(photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)
Some thoughts on the escalating crisis in the Holy Land and its impact on young people, from the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem:
What is the origin of the current conflict? It is difficult to say precisely. We agree on several factors: the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the endless conflict in Syria, and instability in Egypt. Recently we witnessed the end and the failure of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, in particular because of the refusal of Palestine to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” and the continued construction of illegal Israeli settlements, which led to a new wave of pessimism and despair. The attempted reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has not convinced the State of Israel which refuses to talk to Hamas, considered a terrorist organization.
The discovery of the three dead Israeli teenagers and the revenge that followed, leading to the horrific death of a young Palestinian, were sufficient to ignite a wick. And one does not know how big the powder keg is to which this wick is attached. “We do not know when and how it will end,” says Father David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics to Vatican Radio. This recent expression is very sad because once again the victims are young adults and the responsible elders are not ready to shift their policy positions that deny the rights of others.“
Also on Vatican Radio, Archbishop Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem appeals to parents, governors and the Ministry of Education: “What kind of education are we giving to these young people? That is the question. From where does this education come? No one is happy. No one. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians.”
In fact, often it is young people between 15 and 30 years who are at the forefront of these conflicts, encouraged or brainwashed by their elders, or they are discouraged by the lives they lead, without work and without a clear future. “You meet youth who are also against all this violence, says Fr. David Neuhaus. There have been demonstrations against the violence that brought Arabs and Jews together. To tell you the truth, I do not blame the youth, but I blame our political leaders who are not able to develop a language that will prepare a different future without the cycle of violence.“
...Father Neuhaus concludes by wishing “to take a stand with those values that are dear to the Church. It does not means looking at the Jewish or Palestinian part, the Israeli or Arab side. We look at the people, Jews and Arabs, who want something different from our current reality. I think that the Church seeks to contribute to change and must be courageous, generous and creative,” concludes Fr. Neuhaus. “The thing to do is look at who stands before us and call him ‘my brother’ because we are all children of God.”
Read more at the Latrin Patriarchate website.
14 July 2014
An Israeli takes pictures with his mobile phone as a missile launched from the Gaza Strip is intercepted by an Israeli defense system on 10 July. (photo: CNS/Atef Safadi, EPA)
14 July 2014
Pope Francis leads his 13 July Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Pope Francis called for an end to the flare-up of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, urging leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace. (photo: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)
Pope Francis appeals for peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for peace in the Holy Land. Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope described his appeal as “heartfelt” and said we must all continue to pray insistently for peace in the Holy Land in the light of the tragic events of the past days...
Israel says it downed drone as death toll climbs (ABC News) The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed today that it sent homemade drones over Israel, after Israel said that it had shot down a Palestinian drone flying along the coast in southern Israel. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades boasted on Twitter that the drones carried out “three missions over Israeli military bases” and a “specific mission over Israeli war ministry.” The group claimed to have domestically built three different kinds of drones for surveillance and bombing missions...
Ukraine forces end blockade at airport (Reuters) Ukraine said on Monday its forces had ended a rebel blockade of a strategic airport in the east as it traded charges and threats with Russia over violations of their joint border during a weekend of fierce military combat. Ukraine’s military said its warplanes had inflicted heavy losses on the pro-Russian separatists during air strikes on their positions, including an armoured convoy which Kiev said had crossed the border from Russia...
Ukraine crisis damaging Catholic-Orthodox relations (AFP) The crisis in Ukraine is undermining reconciliation efforts between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church and has shown up Pope Francis’s inability to make his peace message heard in the conflict-torn country, analysts said. Francis has called for dialogue in Ukraine — as he does for conflicts around the world — but the Vatican has kept a distance and did not take a position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March or subsequent hostilities in the east of the country...
More Kerala nurses leaving India (Hindustan Times) The rains are weak this year in Kerala and everyone was talking about it. Then they started talking of something else — the rescue of the 45 nurses from Iraq, and the scandal of another batch that wants to go right back. The return from Iraq has lobbed certain questions at the Kerala nursing fraternity. It believes it has to answer them, both for self-clarification and to explain why things are the way they are. The questions are: Should they allow themselves to be ill-paid and stay safe? Or should they, before all else, go after the money?...
27 June 2014
An Argentina fan wears a mask of Pope Francis as he attends the 2014 World Cup Group Final on 25 June between Argentina and Nigeria at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Argentina defeated Nigeria, 3-2. (photo: CNS/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)
26 June 2014
In this image from 2011, A 53-year-old Christian mother in northern Iraq displays a photo of her son, who was killed in sectarian violence. (photo: Safin Hamed)
CNEWA has just learned that the situation in Qaraqosh, Iraq, is critical, that all 50,000 people have been evacuated and that the Syriac bishop there is negotiating between two sides for his people.
The Globe and Mail has the background:
Thousands of Iraqi Christians arrived in Kurdish-controlled areas on Thursday after Islamist militants attacked one of the last Christian enclaves in country.
A staff member from the International Organization for Migration said that between 2,000 and 3,000 people arrived Wednesday night and Thursday morning at a converted youth centre in Ain Kawa, a Christian town on the outskirts of the Kurdish capital of Erbil, that was serving as a temporary refugee-processing hub. Thousands of other Christians were reported to have sought protection with local families in Erbil and other Kurdish cities.
The refugees were fleeing an attack by the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant on Qaraqosh, an historic Christian town outside the city of Mosul. In recent weeks, The Sunni extremist ISIL has made stunning advances in Iraq, seizing the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, as well as border crossings to neighbouring Jordan and Syria, as it pushes towards Baghdad.
ISIL is supported by remnants of the Baath Party of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as many local Sunni Muslim tribes opposed to the Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Qaraqosh residents and Kurdish officials say ISIL attacked Qaraqosh — which had been under the joint protection of Kurdish peshmerga fighters and local Christian militiamen — late Wednesday night. Although the attack was apparently repulsed, several mortar rounds landed in Qaraqosh, a town of 50,000, provoking a mass exodus.
Until Wednesday, Qaraqosh had been seen as a safe haven for Christians fleeing violence and persecution in Mosul and other cities. Many residents had moved there following a wave of murders and threats targeting Mosul’s Christians in 2008.
We reported extensively on the plight of Christian refugees in northern Iraq in ONE in 2011, in our story A New Genesis in Nineveh.
Please keep the suffering people of Iraq in your thoughts and prayers. You can also help them with a tangible gift that can help bring medicine and equipment to those in need. Visit this page to learn how you can make a difference today.
26 June 2014
In this image from 2006, Metropolitan Nicholas presides at a liturgy in honor of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Camp Nazareth, Mercer, Pennsylvania. To learn about the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, read our profile in the July 2006
issue of ONE. (photo: Lisa Kyle)
25 June 2014
Making sfeeha from scratch is laborious, but well worth the effort. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
In Massachusetts, you can find a thriving enclave of Armenian culture, which we reported on in 2006:
At first glance, Watertown is not unlike many of the middle-class suburbs and small towns that have sprung up around Boston. Its most imposing building is the brick post office on Main Street, which is surrounded by an array of inconspicuous office buildings and stores. Take the New England accents away, and you could be anywhere in Small Town, U.S.A.
But look closer, especially along Mount Auburn Street, another of Watertown’s major thoroughfares. There you will find the offices of lawyer Ara H. Margosian II and optometrist J.C. Baboian, the Bedrojian Funeral Home and the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenian flags — tricolors of red, blue and orange — fly above filling stations. There is a cluster of specialty groceries, all more or less like the Sevan Bakery, which advertises “Fresh lahmejune daily” and displays a list of available dips: hommus, babagounesh, muhammara, yalangy, tabouleh and tarama. You would think Watertown, population 33,000, was founded by a group of Armenian gourmands, not 17th-century English settlers.
Like other immigrant communities, the 50,000 Armenian-Americans in the Boston area are bound together by several cultural factors. There is of course religion. In Watertown alone there are four Armenian churches — two Armenian Apostolic, a Catholic and an Evangelical — and several more within a short drive. There is also language, though this cultural glue is weakening as Armenians followed the historic assimilation patterns of other immigrant groups. And there is politics, particularly the galvanizing efforts to raise awareness about the Armenian genocide, which many believe has been an overlooked tragedy of the 20th century and one that Turkey has never fully acknowledged. Food might seem a less lofty social glue, but nonetheless it may be the most enduring. After all, very few drive to Watertown from New Hampshire or Vermont to attend a political rally or a Sunday liturgy. But they do come, and in droves, to stock their pantries and freezers.
Margaret Chauushian and her husband, Gabriel, bought the Sevan Bakery 22 years ago, five years after they moved to Watertown from Istanbul. The store is dominated by a long salad bar — actually, a salad bar that has been converted into a depository of dozens of different nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, toasted or fresh, unsalted or salted. In the back, several men and women were making fresh lahmejunes — a thin, spicy pizza — for which the bakery is best known. The store caters to Watertown’s 7,000 Armenian-Americans, Armenian-Americans who drive in from near and far and non-Armenians who have developed a taste for the food.
“Most of our customers are Armenian, of course, but we also have a lot of Jewish customers,” Mrs. Chauushian said. “Saturday is our busiest day. We have people who drive in from all over New England.”
Read more about where you can get A Taste of Little Armenia in the July 2006 issue of ONE.
24 June 2014
Some of the more than 500 sets of twins are seen on 19 June taking part in the feast of Sts. Gervasis and Prothasis, patron saints of twins, at the parish of the same name in Kothanalloor, India. The church was dedicated in 1599 to the twin saints of the second century. To learn more about this unusual feast, visit the parish’s website. (photo: CNS/courtesy Kothanalloor parish)
Tags: India Kerala