By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
The tragedy of Gaza is known throughout the world. Humanitarian groups such as KinderUSA focus on the smallest and most helpless victims – the children. Given the disproportionate number of young children in Gaza, their work takes on heroic proportions.
KinderUSA, an advocacy group for children, held its annual banquet/fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Garden Grove, Ca. The event was titled: â€œPlanting Seeds Today for Ramadan Tomorrowâ€. KinderUSA, which stands for Kids in Need of Development, Education, and Relief, was founded in 2002 by a group of dedicated physicians and humanitarian workers. In promoting the well being of children, KinderUSA is dedicated to the principle that children have a right to survival and that right has as a corollary a right to health,education and shelter.
The event featured as speakers Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, the Chairperson of KinderUSA and Dr. Mads Gilbert of the Norwegian Aid Committee University Hospital Norway.
Both physicians told of their experiences in Gaza, experiences which limned the cruelty of the Israeli Occupation. Dr. Al-Marayati also outlined and explained the work that KinderUSA has done in the region.
After an introduction by Dr. Basil Abelkarim and his reading with translation from the holy Koran, Dr. Al-Marayati took to the podium.
KinderUSA now has permanent non profit status. The group seeks transparency in all its operations. In describing some of their work in Gaza, Dr. Al-Marayati said that KinderUSA gives out food coupons which coupons are then used by the recipients to purchase food. The food is grown and prepared locally, and it is KinderUSA which provides the seeds for agricultural products. KinderUSA also supports a bakery in Gaza which provides nutritious goods throughout the oPt.
The audience was visibly moved when Dr. Al-Marayati described the courage shown by KinderUSA workers in going into the streets of Gaza during the Israeli assault. They put their lives at risk to insure that no hungry family was left unfed.
Dr. Al-Marayati also addressed the total and wanton destruction that the Israeli assault imposed on Gaza. She showed pictures of devastated buildings that could not conceivably be considered military targets and therefore should not have been targets of primary intent. One such building was a mosque and another was the American International School.
Dr. Mads Gilbert said that he could not call Israeli recent action in Gaza a war. Wars have rules. This was a vicious assault. â€œThe Palestinian people may well be the strongest and most innovative people on earthâ€ he said. Israel launched an assault, an action that violated basic human rights.
Dr. Gilbert referenced the recent issue of the prestigious medical journal, Lancet, that showed a scientific correlation between the Israeli Occupation and the tragic health conditions in Gaza. There can be no improvement until the Occupation ends.
Gaza, he continued, is a prison camp. Given the average age of Gazans – which is in the teens – it is truly a prison camp for children.
The pictures that were shown in the front of the room told a story of suffering in themselves. The doctors presentations brought the suffering alive.
â€œIt is hard to believe how terrible things areâ€ said one young woman â€œBut it is true.â€
For readers who wish to know more of the work of KinderUSA or who wish to contribute to their excellent work, please access their web site at: www.kinderusa.org.