Catholic-run Hospital in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) — Holy Family Hospital marked a milestone on Oct. 18 with the birth of its 50,000th baby since 1990.

Hafsah Radaydiah, 19, a first-year history major at the Open University in East Jerusalem, gave birth to her first child, Aisha, after three hours in labor. She and her husband Isam, a 24-year-old laborer, are from the West Bank village of Ebiedieh just outside of Beit Sahour.

The Catholic hospital, run by the Order of Malta, is also marking the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the order and the Daughters of Charity.

“It is really something wonderful for her to have been the 50,000th baby born here. This is good luck for us,” said Hafsah Radaydiah, a Muslim. “I am so happy. I have been waiting to become a mother. This will change my whole life.”

Like many young Palestinian women, Hafsah Radaydiah, the youngest of eight children, said she intended to continue studying to complete her degree.

“I will study when the baby is sleeping and my mother and mother-in-law will help me with her,” she said, as Isam, who was not present at the birth, arrived in the room and cradled his new daughter in his arms.

Hafsah Radaydiah’s mother, Muna Radaydiah, was with her daughter in the delivery room and said she felt as if she were giving birth.

“I am glad that now my youngest has a baby of her own,” she said.

Though the birth brought with it a bit of fanfare from the hospital, Hafsah Radaydiah said she just wanted her daughter to be “raised in a good way,” to have a good education and to be happy.

“When she finishes with the university, then I will let her marry,” said the new mother.

Dr. Jacques Keutgen, general manager of the hospital, said he was pleased that the baby was a girl.

“Women are symbolic of the future, and here in this country we have to work a lot for the women of Palestine to get their rights, including decent health care,” he said.

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