Since her arrival in the Holy Land as a volunteer at the École Biblique, Clémence has not been confined within the walls of this institution.
Negotiated before her arrival, a time “given elsewhere” allows her to better anchor herself in the life of this complex land. The school had made four proposals to her: scouting in the Saint-François-Sainte-Claire group, Christian E.h.p.a.d. in Abu Dis, French conversation at the Latin Seminary in Beit Jala… She opted for the Daughters of Charity’s Crèche in Bethlehem. Here is her testimony.
Here, for 140 years, the sisters have taken in abandoned children from all over Palestine.
Within the walls of this orphanage are children that a family member has come to drop off. They will stay there until they are 6 years old, before going to another centre for older children. They are too poor…or “children of shame”. After a rape or an incest, secretly abandoned in a street or in a field, they are miraculously taken in here. The disgrace of a child out of wedlock remains so strong that Arab families may even go so far as to kill the mother and the child to wash away the shame. These women then have no choice but to abandon their children.
Since Covid, the number of abandoned incestuous children has soared. This is not a discovery of course, life is not beautiful everywhere. However, being confronted with it so violently makes you think differently.
It is therefore with great motivation that I go to Bethlehem a few afternoons a month. I am attached to the six-month-old group; they are learning to sit up, stand up, and take a few steps. We have eight little ones, each one more adorable than the next. I won’t dwell on the terrible stories that brought them here. But I put all my energy into cuddling them, making them grow, stimulating them, giving thanks for having found this possibility to live my mission in a different way.
Paradoxically, these children help me to feel in my rightful place. Some will find an adoptive family, others will stay here for a long time. The important thing, I think, is to always keep in mind that every life deserves to be lived and helped.
C de G