'Birthplace of Hope's' First Baby returns in witness, welcome and love 

Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem welcomes back Dina Atik

by Kevin Wandra Thursday, December 13, 2012

For More Information:
Alexis Walkenstein, 561-445-5409 or
Tim Lilley, 678-990-9032 or
TLilley@MaximusMG.com; or
Kevin Wandra, 678-990-9032 or

ATLANTA, DEC. 13, 2012 – When Dina Atik sees Holy Family Hospital in her hometown of Bethlehem, the young adult has memories that are different from anyone else who has ever been a patient at the Birthplace of Hope.

“It’s my hospital,” she says with a smile – and with good reason. She was the first baby born after the hospital reopened, on Feb. 26, 1990. “I’m the first one, and I will give birth there some day, too.”

Until then, Dina – now a college student studying business in Bethlehem University – returns to the hospital regularly as a volunteer, serving young mothers and babies who turn to the hospital for life-saving care. Dina’s business major requirements for completion of study includes work in any field – she didn't pick just any place to carry out this volunteer work – she chose the ‘Birthplace of Hope’ – her very own birthplace to serve, work and study. So now the very place where her birth was wrought, Dina now brings that spirit of welcome, openness and service to women and babies in need.

Dina’s mother, Marlen, was in her mid-20s when a doctor who was a family friend suggested she give birth at then-newly inaugurated Holy Family Hospital. She and her husband Edward took the advice.

“The staff was very nice, and everybody was calming me down” she said, recalling the moments before Dina came into the world. “When Dina was born, everybody was so happy.”

Dina soon will turn 23, and is engaged. She sounds very much like a young American woman of her age. In many ways, she is; but her home is far different from a country she hopes one day to visit.

“Sometimes, I would like to experience something else … to visit America,” she said. “It is difficult. We can’t even visit nearby Jerusalem unless we have a travel permit, which is not easy to get and only issued on Christian holidays.” She meets her friends at local restaurants and cafes; but they can’t go dancing or bowling – or even to a movie. Bethlehem offers none of those things to residents.

The tiny West Bank town does, however, offer families throughout the region a true Birthplace of Hope, as Dina and her mother know so well. For more than 20 years, and after more than 55,000 deliveries, no family has ever arrived at Holy Family Hospital to hear “there is no room.”

Advent Calendar

The Holy Family Hospital Foundation, the U.S.-based agency that provides financial support to the hospital, offers an interactive Advent calendar online that visitors can use throughout the season as they prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. The calendar includes an update on Dina – and on Baby Aisha, the 50,000th baby born at the hospital.

Visit the calendar anytime for:

• Video features that will introduce visitors to the hospital, its staff, its mobile medical outreach and the families that turn to the facility for the medical care they need so badly.
• Reflections that will include Catholic clergy, religious, writers and bloggers.
• Photos and graphics that will drive home the message of the hospital’s status as the West Bank’s true birthplace of hope for families in one of the world’s most impoverished, war-torn areas.

New calendar content is unlocked daily throughout Advent.

About Holy Family Hospital

The French Daughters of Charity opened Holy Family Hospital in 1885 as an 80-bed general hospital and orphanage. The sisters ran the hospital for a century, but were forced to close the hospital in 1985 due to economic and socio-political reasons.

Blessed Pope John Paul II approached the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and requested that it take over administration and operation of the hospital. The Order of Malta continues a tradition of Christian love born 2,000 years ago in Jesus and carried on 1,000 years later when it opened its first hospice in nearby Jerusalem. Under the Order’s leadership, Holy Family Hospital reopened as a maternity/gynecological hospital in 1990. Since then, more than 55,000 babies have been born, and many of them have been saved in the only neonatal intensive care unit in the entire West Bank Region.

Holy Family Hospital also operates a mobile outreach clinic that provides medical care to families and women living, in many cases, without access to running water or sanitary services. At the turn of the century, Blessed Pope John Paul II named Holy Family Hospital one of the top 100 priorities for the Roman Catholic Church in the new millennium.

The hospital recruits and trains native-born medical professionals, and has trained more than 90 midwives who work in other hospitals throughout the West Bank. It also provides steady employment and a fair wage for its 150 employees – many of whom are the sole support of large, extended families.

Visit the online newsroom at MaxOnDeadline.com.

For more information on Holy Family Hospital or to schedule an interview with Foundation Executive Director Colleen Marotta, please contact Kevin Wandra (678-990-9032 or KWandra@MaximusMG.com), Tim Lilley (678-990-9032 or TLilley@MaximusMG.com) or Alexis Walkenstein (561-445-5409 or AWalkenstein@MaximusMG.com) of The Maximus Group.


0    submitted by Kevin Wandra
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