Stories of the suffering and oppressed abound in the media. The most poignant of these reports involve societyâ€™s most helpless and innocent victims – the children. More than any other group, these children cry out for help.
The Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF) has answered the call since its founding in 1991. While initially founded to address the medical and humanitarian needs of Palestinian children, the PCRF has since expanded its mission to treat needy children all over the Middle East in cases where their needs cannot be met locally.
PCRF held its annual gala banquet and fundraiser this past Saturday night at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in Anaheim, Ca.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Shibley Telhami, a Professor at the University of Maryland. He has appeared on NPR, PBS, Amazon.com and forums at the University of Maryland. He has also worked as a pollster for the Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barak Obama.
Sharing the keynote spotlight was a film tribute to PCRFâ€™s co-founders and inspiration, Dr. Musa Nasir and his wife, Suhaila. The tribute traced Dr. Nasirâ€™s life from his birth in Berzeit, Palestine to the present day. Dr. Nasir is a practicing physician in Orange County. Accolades abounded from fellow physicians, friends, family, staff and the recipients of his and Suhailaâ€™s charitable efforts. This charity consisted not only of fund raising but of compassion and caring and a willingness to be always there for those who needed them.
Steve Sosebee, the CEO of the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund and, with the Nasirs, its cofounder, gave a visual presentation of the groupâ€™s work.
Other presentations included Dr. Hugh Watts, a frequent traveller to the Middle East under PCRF auspices. He has also donated his services to children from the Middle East who have been brought to Southern California. Comedian Nazareth brought laughter and cheers from the audience with humor about the pitfalls of being a Middle Easterner in the United States post 9/11. The tragi-comic anecdotes struck a familiar chord in the attendees. Nazareth also took part in successful fundraiser before the end of the evening.
A moving tribute to the late poet Mahmood Darwish through the reading of his works resonated with the audience.
The PCRF sends medical missions composed of doctors – usually specialists – and other medical personnel. In addition to treating needy children, they also train their local equivalents so that they may one day act independently.
Three PCRF success stories were introduced by Steve Sosebee, and they took to the stage to a standing ovation.
Following are but a few of the achievements of the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund: The opening of a Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem; A summer camp for disabled Palestinian Youth; Sending medical equipment and supplies to the West Bank and Gaza, and the distribution of food, clothing and medicine to children in Lebanon refugee camps.
To find out more about PCRF and to donate to their excellent work, please access their web site at: www.pcrf.net.