Good news arrived from the Holy Land this week.
Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem marked a milestone birth: The 50,000th baby — named Aisha — was born on Monday. Fitting on the feast of St. Luke, who gave us the beautifully detailed account of the Nativity, because Holy Family Hospital is just 1,500 feet from where Mary gave birth to Jesus.
Aisha is the daughter of 19-year-old Hafsah Omar Radaydiah and her 24-year-old husband, Isam.
“I am so happy — have been waiting to become a mother,” said Hafsah. “This will change my whole life. I’m happy because she is so beautiful.”
With the only neonatal intensive care unit in the region, this state-of-the-art maternity hospital saves more than 400 infants a year. They’re among the 3,000-plus births this hospital sees annually. In the last two years, just over 59% of all deliveries in the Bethlehem district took place here. With its clinic and mobile outreach, that adds up to 22,000 consultations yearly.
After the order of nuns who founded the hospital had to close it in 1985, none other than John Paul II declared Holy Family Hospital one of the top 100 global priorities for the new millennium. He wanted it as a Christian presence in the Holy Land and asked the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to run it. It reopened in 1990.
Colleen Marotta, the executive director of the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation, headquartered in Washington, made it clear that in Palestine there’s no health insurance and no social welfare, but the people without a single shekel know they’ll never be turned away at the hospital. The “innkeeper” never tells them, “No room.”
Holy Family has been a godsend and an oasis of peace for families in one of the poorest and unstable regions in the country.
“I hope there will be peace in this land,” said Dr. Jadallah Najjar, head of Holy Family Hospital’s Gynecology and Obstetrics Department, who delivered the baby, “and that this birth is a symbol of that peace.”
Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.