A Palestinian girl sits at the entrance of her family’s house in Biet Lahiya, Gaza, March 24. Mohammed Salem/Reuters.
The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) is the world’s largest charity serving the medical needs of children in the Middle East. Its works of charity and humanitarian endeavors have been chronicled for our readers. Presently the PCRF is focusing on the needs of the beleaguered children of Gaza, a nation under siege and still reeling from the physical destruction and psychological trauma that Israeli hostilities unleashed in the summer of 2014.
The PCRF operates out of three offices in Gaza with a field staff of twenty to serve the residents there. Indeed their field work did not diminish even as Israeli bombs were falling. Their primary task is to identify at risk children and determine the optimum placement of humanitarian aid in light of the now many displaced persons there. Needy children in Gaza cannot be treated on site – though this is usually the first choice of PCRF staffers elsewhere – due to the after affects of the war. Many homes have been destroyed and have not been rebuilt, cannot be rebuilt, because the Israelis will not permit the importing of building material.
The PCRF has been able to distribute shoes, infant formula and milk for young children, and prescription eye glasses. Partnering with #torebuildgaza, the PCRF has provided material for home construction and much needed winter blankets. Its medical aid to extremely disabled children has taken these children out of a war zone to a place of safety where medical intervention has given them an opportunity to lead a normal life. Herewith some of their stories.
Eleven year old Rahaf Elnemnem has travelled from Gaza to San Diego through the auspices of the PCRF. As a result of an early childhood trauma, Rahaf was fitted with a cosmetic eye at no cost to her family when medical consultations determined that this was the only feasible option. During the period of examinations, fitting and recovery, Rahaf stayed with a local Arabic speaking family through arrangements made by the San Diego PCRF chapter.
Marah el Hindawi, who is three years old, suffered from a congenital deformity of both legs. She will be fitted with prosthetic legs which will enable her eventually to walk unaided. She was accompanied by her mother, Ghada, to Dallas where all the medical procedures are being performed. During their stay they will incur no medical expenses as some are gratis and others will be paid by the PCRF. While in Dallas they will stay with an area Arabic speaking family.
Seventeen year old Bisan Zeino from Gaza was treated in Tennessee for a life threatening urological condition that required highly specialized surgery. She has recovered and can now look forward to a normal life.
Heba Shaheen, who is fourteen, was sent to North Carolina from Gaza to be fitted by area specialists with a prosthetic device which will cover a portion of her left leg.
The people of Gaza are resilient and strong but the unrelenting Israeli siege has made them dependent in many arenas on outside help.
The children of Gaza – as are children everywhere – are the siege’s tiniest victims. The PCRF web site may be accessed at pcrf.net. Donations may be earmarked for the Gaza relief projects.