Many of us have a scarce recollection of our early childhood, for eight-year-olds in Gaza it’s hard to erase the horrific images of the three wars they’ve witnessed since birth. Beside the dangers of living under Israeli siege, livelihood is extremely poor, (Gaza is running out of clean water) and healthcare is luxury; it’s tragedy that living conditions are…well not livable for 1.6 million people but it’s the unfortunate reality.
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a non-profit organization that identifies and treats the medical and surgical needs of children in the Middle East (not just in Palestine) regardless of their race, religion, gender, sect, or nationality is working to change the standard of living for kids in Gaza. Construction for the first and only pediatric cancer department began in March 2016 and once completed will provide treatment for many of Gaza’s children who suffer from cancer and a lack of accessibility for treatment.
The Dr. Musa and Suhaila Nasir Gaza of the Pediatric Cancer Department, named in honor of two major supporters of the PCRF who helped get the organization up and running. Dr. Musa held the position of chairman for many years while his wife, Suhaila Nasir had housed and cared for several children receiving treatment in America. Along with providing children with free cancer treatment, the PCRF keeps children on top of their studies with education services and provides entertainment during the duration of their treatment to keep their spirits up.
Following the success of the pediatric cancer department in Beit Jala, Bethlehem, the PCRF wanted to bring that same access to treatment and compassion to the children of Gaza. The PCRF had opened the doors to the Huda al Masri Cancer Department in April 2013 providing inpatient or out-patient care for children in the West Bank. Previously Palestinian children had to receive cancer treatment in Israel or Jordan which is costly, difficult, and sometimes impossible. Huda al Masri Cancer Department was named after PCRF’s head social worker, who toiled to provide the much deserved and vital care for children in the Middle East for 17 years before losing her battle against leukemia. Since it’s establishment the department has treated 170 children including 126 outpatients and 44 inpatients, the PCRF hopes to mirror it’s successful outreach and treatment in Gaza.
Aside from treating cancer, the PCRF helps organize missions for medical and health professionals from every corner of the planet to screen and treat kids in Palestine as well as in refugee camps in Lebanon, and Jordan. Having foreign specialist perform screenings and treatments not only helps the children attain a healthier more fulfilling life but also helps improve the skills and knowledge of local specialists. When treatment is unattainable in the Middle East due to a lack of a availability or resources the PCRF will send the child abroad to receive treatment at some of the best facilities around the world. While receiving treatment the child is cared for by the local PCRF chapter, where they are set up with host family who cares for them during the duration of their treatment. PCRF sounds awesome, amirite?
WE SAID THIS: You can help build the first and only pediatric cancer department by donating to the PCRF here.