By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
With each passing day the situation in Gaza – aptly called the world’s largest outdoor prison – seems to worsen. Often it is easier to comprehend a great tragedy by seeing this tragedy writ small, through the eyes of one person or a small number of persons.
And, of course, if this person is a child, the tragedy takes on even greater dimensions.
Nisreen Radwan is 14 years old. Her particular prison is in Rafah Refugee Camp in the southern most part of Gaza, the entrance, if you will, to Egypt. Nisreen was born with a congenital malformation of her tibia (a bone in the leg, second in length only to the femur bone in the leg).
A host family eagerly awaits her in Southern California. She is to be treated at Shriners Hospital, and the length of her stay, including the initial treatment and subsequent follow up visits and physical therapy, will be from 4 to 6 months.
An interview with a spokesperson from the host family revealed anger and frustration. “I feel miserable. I feel terrible for that little girl”. He told The Muslim Observer of the many times Nisreen went to the border only to be disappointed when she was turned back. “Its like a nightmare.”
Nisreen cannot be treated in her home area, but if she is permitted to come to the United States, her chances of being able to live a normal life are very high.
In this case, not only did she have difficulty getting permission to leave from the Israelis but also from the government of Egypt. The latter have closed the border to punish Hamas. Nisreen is part of a small group of children who hope to leave Gaza to have their medical conditions treated in the United States.
Haneen Abu Mansour, 15; she lost her sight from a bomb. She will be treated in Fresno. She is traveling with her mother; Osama Masad, 14; he lost his leg in an accident and will be treated in Fresno; Muath Abu Harbeed, 13; he lost an eye from a IDF bomb and will be treated in NYC.
All these children will be treated free of any charges to their families thanks to the efforts of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF).
The PCRF will be familiar to the readers of The Muslim Observer. The PCRF was founded in 1991 to provide medical aid to Palestinian children. It has since expanded to include children in Lebanon and Iraq. The PCRF sends medical missions to Palestine and Lebanon to identify children in need. If they cannot be treated locally, they are brought to North America or Europe for appropriate treatment. These children stay with host families who speak their language until they are able to return home.
The PCRF also donates equipment to Palestinian hospitals and trains medical personnel to be better able to provide local appropriate care. Other PCRF projects include, providing wheelchairs; fitting and providing eye glasses; milk distribution for infants; providing summer camp for children who are disabled; a Women’s Empowerment Project, and emergency relief.
Steve Sosebee, the CEO of the PCRF, learned from the Egyptian Consulate that, at long last, these children we be allowed to leave Rafah for Egypt. They hope to depart from Cairo.
Please contact your members of Congress and the Egyptian and Israeli Embassies to alleviate the closure that both nations are imposing. These young people should not have been delayed in their quest for medical treatment.