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The Advance Project Profile: DSPR - Middle East Tegion


In a region marred by conflict, the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (Advance #14908A) is working to restore dignity, peace and hope to those in need.

Begun in 1948 after the Arab-Israeli war and creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, DSPR is "an ecumenical and church-related organization" that was created by Middle East Christians "to promote socio-economic development and just rights of Palestinian refugees and communities in the Middle East." It now has a staff of nearly 200 Palestinians who serve impoverished people in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Galilee.

DSPR, a part of the Middle East Council of Churches, provides vocational, health and community development programs for Palestinian refugees and others in the region seeking their full human rights and dignity. The program enhances educational opportunities, offers health care services for the poor, provides job skills training for men and women, gives financial help for small businesses and promotes "psychosocial stability," especially for children and women. It also works to develop more clean water resources in overcrowded and impoverished areas.

Bernard Sabella, DSPR's director, said the organization is committed to "bringing hope to Palestinians, refugees and the needy."

"We pray that the societies in our region will achieve greater solidarity and a vision of hope for the future," he said.

Sabella said the DSPR's work is in line with God's commands in Deuteronomy 15:7-8: "If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs."

The organization's 2012 annual report is filled with stories about how DSPR is making a positive difference, Sabella said. The report tells of medical care and life-saving surgeries given to children who might not receive it elsewhere. It also includes stories of women of all ages who are achieving their educational dreams, and it explains how employment opportunities are helping young Palestinian men who might otherwise remain jobless due to discrimination.

According to Sabella, DSPR's efforts succeed largely because of the support it receives from partner organizations. "Our work is not possible without the partnerships that bring us together with faith-based organizations across the globe and with those in our societies with whom we share the challenges and the hopes."

Emily Snell is a freelance writer living in Nashville, Tenn.