Healthcare In Occupied Palestine: The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

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The challenges of providing healthcare in an occupied territory

Steve Sosebee and Zeena Salman, MD. Photo by Steve Sosebee (@stevesosebee)

Steve Sosebee is the president and CEO of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. He’s married to Dr. Zeena Salman, a pediatric oncologist working with the PCRF. For 25 years, PCRF has been leading medical missions to help children in the Middle East, helping children get medical treatment abroad, and delivering humanitarian aid. Their recent visit to the Carver College of Medicine gave Short Coats Reem Khodor, Ethan Craig, and Nico Dimenstein a chance to sit down with them to discuss the challenges and realities of working to provide healthcare within the confines of an occupied territory.

Those challenges are sometimes gargantuan, especially compared with the standard of care children receive in the United States. For example, urgently-needed medications and medical equipment being held up in customs; children who must be separated from family members for their cancer treatment because they are not allowed to travel with adults under the age of 55; dealing with the conflicting priorities of the Israeli military and Hamas, which each govern portions of Palestine.

Their passion for the mission–offering better lives to the children of this contested land–is evident. But somehow, any frustration they may feel about the difficulties they and their young beneficiaries face isn’t. Sosebee and Salman have a strikingly matter-of-fact view of the world in which they operate, and are doing what they must for the children and families caught up in a conflict not of their own design.

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