The work of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) will be familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer. The PCRF is the world’s largest children’s charity dealing with the sick and injured children of the Middle East.
Here a brief review. The PCRF was founded in 1991 and since then has helped 12,528 children through its relief programs. Dr. Musa Nasir and his wife, Suhalia Nasir, along with the present Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Steve Sosebee, were its founders. Concerned at its origin with the children of Gaza and the West Bank, the organization has since expanded its geographic scope. Medical personnel teams are sent to Middle Eastern nations where needy children are treated on site and these teams also serve as teaching agents. If a child cannot be optimally treated in his native land, he is sent to another nation–often but not always, the United States. All medical services and transportation are free to the child’s family. Depending on the patient’s age, a parent or designated guardian may travel with him, also at no cost.
While abroad the child is sent to live with a family that speaks his language and his medical appointments are coordinated by the local PCRF chapter. If his stay is long enough, he will be provided, again at no charge, with at home school instruction appropriate to his grade level.
The PCRF founded and sustains the first Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in Palestine. Recently, a Pediatric Oncology wing was added to Beit Jala hospital in the West Bank. It is named after the late Huda Al Masri, a dedicated social worker and one of the founders of the PCRF. She was the wife of the PCRF’s CEO, Steve Sosebee, and her warmth, dedication, and devotion to the children of the Middle East made her beloved to all.
The most recent project of the PCRF–and perhaps the most ambitious–is the addition of a public Pediatric Oncology Department to a hospital in Gaza. Being under siege and being denied by Israel the necessary materials to rebuilt their shattered land, the Gazans, while brave and resourceful, are unable to properly care for children diagnosed with cancer. Since treatment and testing are usually long term situations, traveling is not a viable option and, more significantly, under this siege, it is a time consuming process to get a sick child the necessary permission to leave Gaza.
At the present time, work has begun with the tedious task of clearing the roof of the Specialized Pediatric Hospital in Gaza City where the Department will be built. The department will be named the Dr. Musa and Suhail Nasir Gaza Pediatric Cancer Department. Sosebee announced this plan for Gaza during a recent trip to the United States.
Sosebee has this message for the proposed Pediatric Oncology project:
“Children in Gaza who are fighting this terrible disease called cancer are also suffering from living under military occupation and siege and have almost no adequate care available to them there. Unfortunately, the department we built in Beit Jala Hospital is not easily accessible to these kids, and rather than letting them die there, we must bring the services to them by building even a better department in Gaza. Of course, this is a hugely ambitious project which requires the support of people all over the world to make happen. We hope that people will come forward and support this work so we can save the lives and reduce the suffering of our poor children in Gaza.”
Here, as an illustration of the PCRF’s devotion, is a capsulated story of one young man whom the PCRF is helping to achieve a normal life, one that would not have been possible without their dedication.
Layth Sadoon is sixteen years old. He is from Iraq and was born with a deformity in both of his legs. He arrived in Los Angeles a few days ago and was welcomed by Arabic speaking members of the PCRF. He is presently living with an Arabic speaking host family in Canyon Country. Since his stay here will be a long one, the Los Angeles/Anaheim chapter of the PCRF has arranged for home schooling for him.
Layth will have to have numerous doctor’s appointments and multiple surgeries which will be performed at Shriners Hospital. After surgery he will need extensive physical therapy and time to recuperate.
In addition to providing transportation, the local PCRF will visit him at his foster home and during his hospital stays. Layth speaks only Arabic–his English is not sufficient for him to really communicate. The PCRF invites Arabic speaking volunteers in the community to visit him and, if needed, provide transportation.
Lulu Emery is the patient coordinator, and anyone wishing to volunteer may call her at: 714-852-2882.
The reader may wish to access the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund at its web site to find out more about its great and varied work.