Caritas Baby Hospital Embraces Bethlehem

Center Caters to the Poorest, Regardless of Creed

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BETHLEHEM, West Bank, JAN. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In a town that has seen its share of strife in recent years, the Caritas Baby Hospital is open to little patients of all faiths and races.



"No child will be denied help in this symbolic place" is the motto of this health center for children, which makes no distinctions of race or religion.

The only pediatric hospital in the Palestinian zones, it was built with the help of the Swiss-German Caritas. The institution's name, Kinderhilfe Bethlehem, means "help the children in Bethlehem." Its care is directed to mothers and children of the Holy Land.

The hospital was founded during Christmas of 1952, when Father Ernst Schnydrig saw a desperate man bury his dead son in the mud behind a Palestinian refugee camp.

Profoundly moved by the incident, Father Schnydrig decided to rent a house where he installed 14 beds and named it Caritas Baby Hospital. He was determined that help would never be denied to a child in Jesus' birthplace. The Franciscan Isabellines of Padua run the hospital.

"We treat illnesses, caused by misery and poverty, which have practically disappeared in Europe: the consequence of malnutrition and inadequate nourishment, genetic malformations, and skin and intestinal tract diseases," explained Dr. Gregor Schubiger, of the pediatric clinic of the canton of Lucerne, and medical adviser of the KHB, in statements reported by the Italian-language Web page Giovani.

The hospital now has 82 beds, an outpatient clinic, a school of nursing, a school for mothers, a day-care center and social services.

The focus of the hospital's activity is the poorest people. Patients' families share the expenses with a contribution according to their means.

Every year, Caritas Baby Hospital admits 3,000 children, while more than 15,000 receive outpatient clinic treatment. This work is possible thanks to the help received from donors in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria.

With its 200 dependents, the hospital is also one of the most important job providers in the region.

For more information or to send contributions, contact the representative for Switzerland:

Monsignor Valerio Crivelli
Via Cortivallo, 11
CH-6903 Lugano-Besso
Switzerland
Telephone: 091-967-1868