Director’s Letter – Annual Newsletter 2021

Dear friends and partners, It is almost Christmas, and without doubt the world is still suffering from the lingering effects of COVID-19. In 2021 we missed many of our friends, partners and pilgrims who used to visit us so often and share their thoughts and prayers. I hope that soon we will be able to meet again face to face. Having said that, this year was also packed with events, actives and change, for better and worse. Our Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Project continued to work in full capacity serving 17 clients at any given time and had graduated 20 men back to their families. The project has also witnessed an important addition, House of Grace had rented an apartment for the men who are unable to go back home after rehabilitation, and are unable to find a roof but want to have a fresh start. The apartment for six people is providing a safe home and the opportunity for those men to find work and start taking responsibility over themselves. Our organic garden has also been flourishing as some of our clients proved to have a “green thumb”. As for the Families in Need project, we have been providing 50 professional personal counseling sessions a month for families in need, in addition to hundreds of food packages distributed. However, House of Grace still deals with the misfortune effects of COVID-19 as tens of families arrive on a monthly basis asking for help to pay basic bills for electricity, water and education; even worse, families arriving to House of Grace asking for help in rent as they have been asked to evacuate their home has become as common as one case a week. Unfortunately, we are unable to cope with these requests financially and with a heavy heart we turn most of them down. However, we are fortunate to be able to help families find suitable job opportunities, achieve limited but necessary aid from governmental offices, and most importantly provide fathers, mothers and many helpless persons with a safe space to express their frustration and emotions without condemnation; many arrive to us willingly simply to talk about their issues knowing that we can only provide a warm, loving and safe space. House of Grace’s Youth at Risk project had also been affected by COVID-19. The fixed schedule and activities had turned chaotic due to quarantine and social distancing issues. Furthermore, our social worker had discovered that the rate of domestic violence has become very severe and immediate intervention in many cases was necessary. On the organizational level, House of Grace has been engaged in many meetings with the municipality, the prisons authority, the national insurance institute, and many non-governmental civic organizations in aim to strengthen the network and extending cooperation. Finally, despite the difficulties mentioned above, we always find hope; we witness it in the faces of the ones next to us, the imprinted face of God in his children. I would like to express my gratitude to all our friends, supporters, partners and your families and wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year, for believing in our mission and standing next to us financially, morally and with your prayers, and make our work possible. Jamal Shehade Director

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