By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
Of all suffering world wide, the conscience of human rights advocates centers, it seems, on Gaza, often and appropriately called the worldâ€™s largest prison. The Israeli brutal occupation of Gaza continues, and the children of Gaza are its smallest and most vulnerable victims.
While many organizations have brought help and many more seek to, an outstanding example of humanitarian aid to Gaza rests with the Palestine Childenâ€™s Relief Fund.
The Palestne Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF) held its annual banquet/fundraiser at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in Anaheim, Ca. this past weekend. Titled â€œHealing Handsâ€ the event filled the dining hall to capacity and raised funds for the groupâ€™s continued humanitarian efforts.
The keynote apeaker was Dr. Ilan Pappe. Dr. Pappe. an Israeli citizen, is currently Professor of History and the Director of the European Center for Palestine studies at the University of Exeter and a Fellow at the Institute for Arab and Islamic studies. He is considered one of the worldâ€™s leading scholars on the history of the Middle East. Dr. Pappe has exposed extensively the corrosiveness of Zionism and has documented the destruction and threat to peace by the state of Israel.
Dr. Pappe focused his talk on the subject of Israeli colonialism. He spoke of a visit to a refugee camp in Amman and his interaction with the children there.
When asked how long he would fight for the Palestinian cause, he replied; â€œUntil every Palestinian in the world who wants to return has done so.â€
The event also introduced a new direction for the PCRF: the treatment of chronic disease, specifically pediatric cancer.
This was the dream of the late Huda Al Masri Sosebee, herself a cancer victim. The wife of PCRF President and CEO, Steve Sosebee, she was the organizationâ€™s chief social worker and a tireless worker for children and was known as â€œthe heartâ€ of the PCRF.
Dr. Mohamed Radhi was introduced as the leader of a team which went to Palestine this past June to study the treatments available to pediatric cancer patients. He found them to be inadequate and will work under PCRF auspices to set up a pediatric center at Hussein hospital in Beit Jala.
Dr. Radhi is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. His focus is on pediatric hematology and oncology.
â€œWhat a beautiful ideaâ€ said one young woman after Dr. Radhi spoke, accompanied by a video presentation.
During the evening young children who benefited from the charity of the PCRF were introduced and spoke to the audience.
Dr.Hugh Watts of the Shrinerâ€™s Hospital for Children in Los Angeles received the Huda Sosebee Healing Spirit Award. Dr. Wattsâ€™ specialty is orthopedic surgery. He has been a tireless worker for the PCRF and maintains a keen interest in global health problems.
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund was established in 1991 by concerned citizens in the United States to address the unmet medical needs and humanitarian crises of children in the Middle East. PCRF is a 501 (c)(3) organization which has a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator. Since its founding the PCRF has expanded its scope of operations. Medical teams are sent to the Middle East to treat children where local care is insufficient. If deemed necessary, the child is sent free of charge to North America, Europe or to a nation in the Middle East where proper care can be given. The disciplines within the medical field include, but are not limited to: ophthalmic surgery, pediatric cardiology, vascular surgery, dentistry and orthopedic surgery.
PCRF also sends medical teams to the Middle East to train personnel on site and better equip them to treat needy children locally. PCRF also provides equipment to hospitals in the Middle East.
Host families in the United States provide a home away from home for children brought here. These host families and volunteers ferry children to and from medical appointments and provide psychological support as well as a home base.
To find out more about the vast and far reaching work of the PCRF, please access them at: www.pcrf.net.