The town of Azariya, perhaps better known to western Christians as Bethany, is only a two mile walk over the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem. However, because of the security wall, it is now in the West Bank, and a journey must be made by bus or taxi, taking about 30 minutes.
It is in Azariya that a modern-day miracle is taking place, where in an orphanage, children are being brought up as either Muslims or Christians, depending on their origins. All the children are boys, and they live together in peaceful co-existence.
Jeel al Amal (meaning "Generation of Hope") is a definite stop on all our pilgrimage itineraries, as it is a place of great joy and happiness.
There are about 100 boys in the orphanage, and several hundred in the adjoining school.
"Our everyday life here is a miracle. In our work we sense the presence of Christ - God lives in this orphanage." [Samar Sahhar, Jeel al Amal]
The founder of the orphanage was Alice Sahhar, a Christian inhabitant of Azariya, who with her husband Basil brought two homeless boys into their home to take care of them.
As time went by, other boys were found living in difficult circumstances, and they too were invited into the Sahhar home.
Eventually an orphanage was begun, and now there are almost 100 boys being looked after in a school and dormitories.
The present Director is a daughter of the late Alice Sahhar, and several of the staff are themselves former pupils of the orphanage, who are always ready to tell of their own happy times there.
All of our pilgrim groups are busy organising fund-raising activities and making donations to Jeel, as this is the main source of funding for the project.
Central funding for the UK is looked after by the McCabe Educational Trust, which is a sister group of McCabe Pilgrimages, and many former pilgrims contribute to this.