By Susan Schwartz, TMO
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF), the worldâ€™s largest childrenâ€™s charity, made history last month when two severely handicapped teenagers climbed to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The pair were part of a group of climbers led by Dubai mountaineer, Suzanne al Houby. Ms Al Houby is the first Arab woman to have climbed Mt. Everest.
Named The Climb of Hope, the PCRF organizers wanted to raise awareness of the plight of children in Palestine and Syria and, through sponsors, to raise funds for their needs.
â€œLet us replace what they have lost with hopeâ€.
While the children have been fitted with prosthetic devices that make every day tasks possible, the grueling climb put stress on the tissue between skin and bone. Despite the pain and discomfort, they endured and prevailed in a testament to their courage and dedication. They provided a message of hope and unity.
The PCRF is dedicated to providing health restoring and life saving medical treatment for children in the Middle East. The two young climbers were beneficiaries of the work of the PCRF.
Mutasem Abu Karsh, 16, lost a leg and part of his hand when an Israeli shell exploded near him in Gaza. Under the auspices of the PCRF, he was brought to the United States and treated at Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles. The Southern California chapter of the PCRF coordinated his treatment. Then he was sent to Dubai to be fitted with a new leg, again under the auspices of the PCRF.
Yasmeen Najjar, now 17, was hit by an Israeli tank when she was four and living in the West Bank. Again the PCRF entered her life and at age nine they paid for her to go to Shriners Hospital in Houston. In 2011 the charity sent her for medical treatment in Jordan, and in 2012 she went to Jerusalem to be fitted with a new leg. Costs for the latter two procedures were also absorbed by the PCRF.
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund, founded in 1991, has numerous offices in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank and a Global Chapter Footprint with volunteers who will see that no needy child goes untreated.. Their work includes – but is far from limited to – medical care on site when optimal. If this is not feasible, the children are sent to other countries for treatment. The many medical missions the PCRF sends to the Middle East include teaching for on site medical personnel as well as treating the young patients.
PCRF provides motorized, fitted wheelchairs and eye glasses; emergency relief; womenâ€™s empowerment projects; camps for disabled children; a Pediatric Cancer Department and a Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Department.
Those who wish to know more about the work of this organization and/or to make a contribution, should access their web site at: www.pcrf.net.