By Susan Schwartz, TMO
Again war takes its greatest toll on the most innocent – the children. The conflict in Syria is not an exception.
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF), familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer, has once again stepped into the breach to aid these tiny victims by extending its operations into Syria.
The PCRF has worked with Syrian children for a number of years.The protocol has been that a social worker was sent from Lebanon to meet with the children and their families. A medical examination would be performed to see if PCRF could offer help to these children.
Since the Arab Spring began in March 2011, 80,000 have died, 500 of them children. More than 260,000 Syrians, one half of them children, are in refugee camps in Syria.
The civil war in Syria has been raging for two years.The PCRF has no offices there and no social workers on the ground.The organization has reached out to some Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and some medical communities to facilitate the identification of children in need.The PCRF has no contact with any government entity and in keeping with its non political orientation, takes no side in the conflict. Doctors are caught in a particularly bad spot. Many are afraid to help for fear of retaliation from either side.
â€œIt has been very challenging to get the children out of Syria and into Lebanon where we have staff equipped to help the children in need.â€ said Lily Karam, the President of the Southern California PCRF chapter. The PCRF is managing with the difficult situation and provides travel and housing expenses.
An inevitable aftermath of a serious burn is an infection. Some Syrian children who have been severely burned have died because the treatment necessary to prevent or treat infections was not available.
Steve Sosebee, the CEO of the PCRF has instructed the staff in Lebanon to accept children with burns even absent a medical report. A picture is sufficient. For other cases it must first be determined that the PCRF will be able to provide aid.
Herewith some examples.
Fourteen year old Mohammed Abu Jammous, also from Syria, lost a leg due to a shell explosion. He was treated in Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston for his injuries and received a prosthetic leg. Mohammed was the first Syrian child aided by the PCRF.
Nine year old Rawan Mubarak, who lost an arm during the conflict, arrived in Cincinnati to be treated at Cincinnati Childrenâ€™s Hospital. She will receive a prosthetic arm, and her expenses will be covered by the PCRF. There she has joined one year old Mayan Taj-Eddin also from Syria and also the recipient of covered expenses form the PCRF.
Last month six year old Gozlon Ghassan had reconstructive plastic surgery in a hospital in Jordan. An army shell had hit her house. She was found by volunteers in a refugee camp in northern Jordan.
Mohammed Mansour was raised in Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascuc. He received head injuries and a skull defect when a shell hit his home. He was treated at the American Hospital in Beirut.
As the war rages more and more children will need the help of the PCRF. The PCRF was founded to help children of the Middle East who have either congenital conditions or injuries or illnesses that cannot be adequately treated in their home country. They are sent to a hospital where they receive treatment free of charge including transportation and the transportation of a guardian if one is required.
Recently the PCRF opened a cancer wing named after Huda Al Masri, a social worker for the organization and the wife of CEO Steve Sosebee. She was the heart of the PCRF and succumbed to cancer. Her final wish was that a pediatric oncology center be established. At present the PCRF has plans to build a Pediatric Cardiac Center in the European Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza.
The PCRF sends medical missions to treat children in the West Bank and Gaza and while there trains local medical personnel. To name but a few of the services of the PCRF, the organization runs summer camps for the disabled, provides fitted wheelchairs, provides spectacles, and has a Womanâ€™s Empowerment Project.
To find out more of the work of the PCRF, please access their web site at: www.pcrf.net.