Our gifts for Mission & Service give children in war-torn countries a chance to be children in places like Palestine with the help of Defence for Children International. On a mural in Aida Refugee Camp inside Bethlehem are the words of Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The article states the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

The refugee camp is less than one kilometre in size and holds more than 5,500 Palestinian refugees. Just around the corner from the mural is a playing field covered by netting. The netting is to protect children from tear gas canisters, rubber bullet capsules, and other debris that Israeli Defence Force soldiers use during their weekly raids on the camp. Children have been reprimanded for playing a game similar to, North American “Cowboys and Indians.” The game is called “Palestinians and Settlers.” The difference is that the game doesn’t end with capture; once captured, the “Palestinian” is punched and kicked by the “Settlers.” This is a disturbing normalization of the occupation.

According to the Director of the Accountability, Programme of Defence for Children International, Palestine (DCI-P), 150 to 200 Palestinian children are arrested and persecuted in the Israeli military system each year. Each child is exposed to torture, solitary confinement, physical assault, and interrogation to ensure confession to a crime (whether committed or not). DCI-P reports information gathered from its legal team to UN committees and special rapporteurs. Mission & Service supports children’s rights in Palestine.

If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.

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