Annual Newsletter 2023 – Director’s Letter

Dear Friends, Partners, and Supporters,

As Christmas approaches, we at House of Grace take this time to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges, sharing our journey with you. The year 2023 has been a mix of trials and triumphs amidst the backdrop of regional war and global unrest.

The political and economic shifts following the January elections, compounded by post-COVID impacts, have heightened societal tensions. Inflation and policy changes have strained everyday life, with increasing crime rates further exacerbating the situation. This climate of uncertainty has particularly affected those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, directly impacting our target groups.

Our Families Project, led by social worker Safaa, has seen a significant increase in requests for support. The rising interest rates, escalating from near zero to 4.75% in just six months, have burdened many, leading to increased debt and financial distress. Consequently, even middle-class families have sought help with basic necessities, signaling a growing need for professional intervention.

In our Youth Project, the post-COVID era necessitated a strategic shift to meet the evolving emotional, social, and educational needs of our youth. Our team has observed heightened school difficulties and family conflicts, necessitating a sensitive and innovative approach to address these challenges.

Our rehabilitation program for prisoners has also adapted, dealing with an increase in violence-related convictions. This shift demands creative and effective treatment strategies to cater to the changing demographics of our halfway house residents.

Amid these challenges, fundraising has become more demanding. Global events, including wars, natural disasters, and financial crises, have affected our support network, prompting us to rethink our fundraising strategies.

The conflict that erupted in October profoundly impacted Arab-Jewish relations and the country’s socio-economic fabric, creating trauma and daily tension.

To address these numerous challenges, our team and administration have engaged in professional counseling and supervision, ensuring our work remains responsive and effective.

Despite these adversities, 2023 has brought positive developments. We’ve enhanced our collaboration with the rehabilitation authority, providing broader support in our field. Our story has attracted pilgrims and local tourists, inspiring them with our mission. New partnerships, including the welcome of two German volunteers, have reinforced our efforts, despite their stay being cut short by the conflict.

We were also delighted when Agnes Shehade, our Co-founder, and former director, received the “Dear Citizen of Haifa” Award from the city’s mayor, honoring her contributions.

Agnes Shehade receiving the "Dear Citizen of Haifa" Award

Furthermore, the installation of an air conditioning system in the Church of Our Lady, supported by our partners, has facilitated more events and gatherings.

Additionally, I am honored to have been appointed the Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Haifa, with my office at House of Grace serving as the consulate.

Our 40th-anniversary celebration in April was a highlight, featuring family activities and a special musical evening. This event reinforced our bond with the local community and raised awareness of our mission.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to God for His blessings, to our partners and supporters, and to our volunteers, whose dedication makes our work possible despite the challenges.

As we celebrate Christmas, let us remember the birth of Jesus Christ, allowing His light to guide us towards peace and brotherhood.

Warm regards,

Jamal Shehade

Director, House of Grace

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