July 19, 2019 | 93° F

Festival focuses on children’s issues

Event raises awareness of Middle Eastern culture, medical relief concerns

Photo by Nelson Morales |

Author Suzy Ismail addresses the aspects that sparked the current revolutions in the Middle East during The Middle Eastern Cultural Festival yesterday on the College Avenue campus.

Through food, film and speakers, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund showcased Middle Eastern culture yesterday in the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus. 

The Middle Eastern Cultural Festival included film screenings, a market and guest lectures in an effort to draw attention to the lack of medical care available to children in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria in a non-political manner, said Abdul Khan, PCRF vice-president.

“I went through a non-political agenda to raise awareness about the dire crisis for kids in the Middle East,” said Khan, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “I’m not even Middle Eastern, but I felt that this is a great organization and it does a lot to help children abroad.”

The variety of events at the festival aimed to raise awareness about the health conditions children face while introducing students to Middle Eastern culture, he said.

PCRF worked to spread knowledge of the organization’s purpose during the event through fundraisers and speakers, Khan said.

“We typically do that in two ways at our college campus,” he said. “The first is through raising awareness. The second is actually raising monetary funding.”

Guest speaker Suzy Ismail, author of “Nine to Five: Muslims in the Western Workplace,” discussed the different factors motivating those involved in the revolutions going on in Egypt, Liberia and Yemen.

Students could dance to Arab and American themed music, shop for traditional Arabic garments and jewelry and sample foods such as hummus, pumpkin seeds and Arabic coffee.

Maddie Kenny, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she learned about the festival through a friend and thought it sounded fun.

“The festival’s really great,“ she said. “The henna is fun. It looks really good and it was free.”

A collaboration of organizations volunteered during the event and attended the festival to show support for the PCRF, said Zain Abouseido, PCRF secretary. 

There were 17 co-sponsoring organizations including the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Muslims without Borders and People to People International.

A University alumnus founded the University’s chapter of PCRF about two years ago as a branch of the national non-political, non-profit PCRF organization, which was established in 1991, Khan said.

The organization helps attain free medical care for children in the Middle East who do not otherwise have the means to attain specialized treatment needed in their homeland, Abouseido said. 

He said there are many children who cannot afford medical treatment or access hospitals.

“What we do is we send medical relief in the form of money for them to get treated over there or we have them come here to America or Europe to get treated,” Abouseido said, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “If anyone’s sick, we help them.”

By Sonika Kumar

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