By Susan Schwartz, TMO
Readers of The Muslim Observer are familiar with the work of the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF). The PCRF is the worldâ€™s largest childrenâ€™s charity dedicated to helping the children of the Middle East, specifically Palestine and those in refugee camps in Lebanon, as they struggle under the triple burden of war, occupation, and poverty.
A little more than a year ago this newspaper carried an article about a proposed Pediatric Oncology Department, at that time far from completion. The Pediatric Oncology Department was the dream of Huda Al Masri Sosebee, a Palestinian social worker who had been with the PCRF for 17 years at the time of her death in 2009. Huda was the wife of the PCRF CEO, Steve Sosebee, and was loved and respected tor her hard work and the dedication she possessed and displayed for the children of Palestine. Huda succumbed to Leukemia and in her final days spoke of the necessity of cancer care for the children of Palestine.
In April 6 of this year the Oncology Department was opened. It is called the Huda Al Masri Pediatric Cancer Department. It is located in Beit Jala hospital. People entering the Department will see a picture prominently displayed of the woman whose dream was the foundation of this effort, the first and only treatment for childhood cancer in Palestine. At the time of its opening the Center already had eleven patients. It is the largest privately funded institution in Palestine. At completion it had taken two years and cost somewhat less than 3 million dollars.
An unlimited number of needy children will be accepted from all over Palestine. There are certain types of medication, treatment and tests, however, which will not be covered by the National Health Insurance provided by the Palestinian Authority. The PCRF asks for contributions to cover these expenses for the children. Contributions may be made by accessing the PCRF web site at: www.pcrf.net.
The hospital will have state of the art treatment and skilled medical personnel. There is a room specifically for chemotherapy; another room that serves as an isolation chamber for children with compromised immune systems, and a Motherâ€™s Room for women to take care of their needs while they sleep in their childâ€™s room as that child undergoes treatment. Rooms are individual and contain chairs for visitors. These chairs open into beds so that a parent may be present at all times with the child .There is a surgical suite and a conference room for medical personnel. There is also a playroom for the patients. A blood bank will soon be completed, and there is advanced training for staff.
The Department is partnering with the King Hussein Cancer Center and the Childrenâ€™s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
To be further informed about this outstanding achievement and to find out more about the PCRF, please access the web site cited above.