The story of Caritas Baby Hospital dates back to 1952 when the Swiss Fr. Ernst Schnydrig visited Bethlehem with Caritas Switzerland on an exploratory mission of the Palestinian refugees´ situation.
In Bethlehem, Schnydrig met Hedwig Vetter, a Swiss nurse, who had spent the last three years in Bethlehem taking care of children in need. They realized the despair in the Palestinian context and the urgent need for medical care, especially for children, and as Christians, they felt the need to serve the people in the birthplace of Jesus.
Back in Europe, Schnydrig promoted the need to help Palestinian children, and in 1953, he came back to Bethlehem and established the first emergency clinic for children, a two-room rental with seven beds. With the support of Hedwig Vetter and Antoine Dabdoub, a local doctor, Caritas Baby Hospital started its operation. Twenty-five years later, in April 1978, the new hospital building was inaugurated.
The Caritas association supported CBH over the course of 10 years after its establishment. The hospital currently operates independently, under the aegis of Children’s Relief Bethlehem (CRB), a Christian relief agency, which Fr. Shnydrig founded in 1963 to sponsor and operate it. However the name ‘Caritas’ was maintained as a reminder of the “charitable” and “love for all” mission of the hospital.
Until today, CRB runs the hospital and is responsible for defining its strategic aims and organizing fundraising activities, in order to cover the hospital’s annual expenses. CRB has a head office in Switzerland and country offices in Germany, Italy and Austria.