By Susan Schwartz, TMO
When war breaks out or when there is prolonged siege or occupation, it is the children who are hardest hit. In a world full of sorrows, humanitarians will focus primarily on the littlest victims, their plight made wore by their innocence.
Readers of The Muslim Observer will be familiar with the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF), the worldâ€™s largest childrenâ€™s charity devoted to serving the health needs of children in the Middle East. The PCRF has arranged for the transportation of children with severe medical needs to the United States from war torn Gaza in the wake of the latest Israeli assault. True to the mission of the PCRF, its CEO, Steve Sosebee, was on the ground in Gaza three days after the initiation by Israel of hostilities.
Children from Gaza have been sent to Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago in the United States and also to Dubai. Los Angeles has received twin 20 month girls for treatment at the Los Angelesâ€™ Shrinerâ€™s Hospital. Whilst awaiting treatment and in its aftermath they will be staying at the nearby Ronald McDonald house accompanied by their mother and an aunt.The children have severe leg deformities.
With the long siege of Gaza medical supplies are severely needed. Doctors in Gaza are exquisitely trained and are alumni of medical schools throughout the world. Living under the Israeli boot with electricity that is interdicted by the Israelis, a shortage of medical supplies, particularly disposable ones, malnutrition, and the physiological effects of siege, the condition of children in particular is an international disgrace. Now new war injuries have been added to the already distressed medical situation. Medical problems that are congenital or the result of injury or infection cannot be adequately treated.
An Arabic speaking PCRF volunteer who received the two girls at Los Angeles Airport, Lamis and Reemsa, said they â€œappeared to be tiny for their ageâ€.
At their first doctorâ€™s visit it was determined that some form of amputation will be needed for both girls followed by extensive physical therapy and the fitting of prosthetic devices. While many in the Arab American community in the Los Angeles area have volunteered for the numerous auxiliary tasks associated with the girlsâ€™ hospitalization and rehabilitation, more help is needed. To offer such help, please call patient coordinator, Lulu Emery at: (714) 852-2822.
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund sends medical missions to children in the Middle East to treat those whose medical needs cannot be met by the local care available. The treatment is free of charge to the children. At the same time those who are a part of each medical mission also act as teaches for the local medical personnel. If necessary, the children are flown, usually with an accompanying adult, to the United States or Dubai for medical treatment. Again this is free of charge. PCRF has also established the first Pediatric Cardiology Unit in the oPt and the first Pediatric Oncology Unit.
The PCRF has provided eyeglasses and customized wheel chairs to the children in the oPt. It has also opened summer camps for disabled children and has created Womenâ€™s Empowerment Projects. The foregoing is but a small part of the entire picture. To find out the rest, please access PCRF at: www.pcrf.net.