Fr. Firas Khoury Diab, the priest at St. George’s Melkite Catholic Church in Zababdeh, sees his church as a catalyst for change and growth in this upper West Bank village. Caring for the spiritual needs of the Melkites and their neighbors in Zababdeh is a top priority. But Abuna Firas believes his work beyond leading the prayers and liturgies is also a high calling.
Abuna Firas works with local people to keep family-supporting jobs in this area, despite the limits on commerce resulting from checkpoints and travel/trade limitations. Pilgrims of Ibillin’s first Peace gift to Zababdeh was for the purchase of new industrial sewing machines, followed by an embroidery machine. Subsequent gifts have provided a scroll saw for olive wood craft0making, gave seed-money for materials to a women’s hand-embroidery collective, and helped build an addition onto the church — now used to house the after-school tutoring program which serves local children and youth.
In late 2014, Abuna Firas and members of the church began building a new room onto the church to provide room for the rapidly growing, active Melkite congregation in Zababdeh. Completion is expected during the winter of 2015. Check this page again soon for pictures and stories!
For 2016, Pilgrims of Ibillin’s gifts will total $6,000. We count on special donations from friends of Fr. Firas and Zababdeh to make these gifts possible. These funds are going for 2 purposes: Part of our gift will provide for an after-school tutoring and enrichment program for local children to strengthen their math, reading, and language skills and to provide extra activities in music, dance, and drama. A second and larger part of our gift will provide scholarships for local students from 2nd grade through high school as they attend the excellent private Catholic school in Zababdeh. To make a secure online donation to support this special program, click here (and designate “Zababdeh” in the notes box of the form).
Finally, members of the Zababdeh Church make pure olive oil soap using traditional methods, and most of this soap will be sent to American (or other international) friends who offer the soap for sale during Alternative Christmas markets and sales. The profits of the soap sales pay fair trade wages to the olive farmers, the soap maker and packager, and even the taxi driver who delivers the soap to be shipped abroad. Part of the profits also help provide the kindergarten program for local low-income children.
Interested in offering Zababdeh olive oil soap, olive wood Christmas ornaments and carvings, or women’s embroidered purses or wall-hangings for sale in your church or community setting? Contact Joan Deming for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-235-1046.
For poster describing the program (8-1/2″ x 11″ pdf), click here.