A HOSPITAL OF DREAMS

IWONA FLISIKOWSKA

The main idea of doing this unusual work is a specialist help for the inhabitants of the Bethlehem region , especially the Christian district Beit Sahour. The hospital is going to be under vocation of Shepherds’ Field, as just here, shepherds herding their flock were called by an angel to pay tribute to born Jesus. Building work of this hospital took a few years and its area is 5 thousand m³. There are plans of building 5 wards: surgery, orthopedics, gynecology and maternity ward, and, what is the most important, the emergency ward. There are also going to be specialist surgeries available for everybody. The cost of its building work is nearly 8 million dollars. Donations for this work come from all over the world – funds are donated by the International Caritas and also institutions and individuals from Europe; also from Poland and Arabic countries. The authorities of the Palestinian Autonomy are also engaged in help. Now the hospital is ready in 80 percent, there are medical devices and furniture – says the director of the medical centre. Bethlehem and Beit Sahour take lots of pilgrimage from all over the world every year, so the hospital is going to serve and help also pilgrims to the Holy Land – the Hospital named the Field of the Shepherds is going to be an authentic hospital for the Christians and all inhabitants of Bethlehem region - says dr. Rishmawi.

Love from the first sight

Dr Rafiq Rishmaw is a Palestinian and comes from the Christian family from generation to generation. He studied medicine 40 years ago in Poland, in Łódź. He was gaining his medical skills just in this city. He also did specialist studies in pediatric in Łódź. From the beginning of his stay there, when he attended a language school to begin his studies later, he was being accompanied by Ewa, whom he had met ‘providentially’. – It was love from the first sight. It was and is still going on – say Ewa and Rafiq. We have experienced a lot of difficult moments but it has already been 38 years since we are married. We got married in the church under vocation of Our Lady of Fatima in Beit Sahour but after a month we returned to Poland so that my husband could continue medical studies and specialization - says Ewa Rishmaw. We had not only one room, without any comfort. Instead of our bed we only had a mattress on the floor. In one room, 2 per 3 metres, we lived for 7 years. At that time our children were born: Susu and Jakub. Hardly anybody believed that our marriage would survive. But it did. The sacrament of marriage, common Holy Mass and prayer at home helped us in the most difficult situations. After 7 years of marriage Ewa and Rafiq set off from Poland to Palestine. It was shocking for dr. Rishmawi’s wife, as at that time there was a war in Palestine: the first uprising. When the married couple managed to get to Beit Sahour, they had to face up a difficult situation: the war, the police hour and continuous anxieties. – In addition there was unemployment, briefly speaking – it if had not been for God’s Providence, which was supporting us through help of good people, we would have had lots of difficulties to survive all those problems. After some time we were offered good work and our third child, Dina, was born – says Ewa. Dr Rafiq Rishmawi is a trustworthy and appreciated doctor, therefore he was made responsible for the Hospital under vocation of the Shepherds’ Field as a medical director. In the years 2012 – 17 the doctor was an Honourable Ambassador of Poland in Bethlehem. Till today he has been helping Polish missionaries working in the region of Bethlehem, especially the Franciscans and ‘Home of Peace’ run by Polish nuns of St. Elizabeth. And the Hospital under vocation of the Shepherds’ Field is a fulfillment of dr. Rafiq’s deepest dreams and work of his life.

Let’s help the Christians in the Holy Land

The situation of the Christians in the homeland of Jesus has been hard and complicated for years. It is best proved by the words of pope Francis that inhabitants of the Holy Land, including Syria, Iraq and Egypt are pouring out a sea of tears’ because of their difficult situation. In Bethlehem the inhabitants are isolated from the rest of the world by the Israeli authorities’ with a separating rope, high up to a dozen metres, which is growing into the depth of the Holy Land year by year: the isolation causes difficulties with moving around, especially if one considers looking for a job to keep one’s family. The Christians are being rooted out more and more, also by the Muslims. Those area are also encountering military conflicts. All this causes a situation in which a lot of Christian families have been escaping from the areas of the Holy Land for the last years in searching for a safe place. Therefore our support is so important. Thanks to material donations help is given to the poorest, Catholic centres and schools, as well as religious orders being in a difficult financial situation. If someone of us decides to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land individually or in a group, he should consider the fact that every penny or souvenirs bought in Christian shops are the source of income for many families. We should remember that the heart of Christianity, its roots are the areas of the Holy Land.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 22/2018 (3 VI 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl