Cape Town runner Mervin Steenkamp completed the Freedom of Movement Palestine Marathon held this morning in Bethlehem Palestine for the third year in a row, taking sixth place. Steenkamp, who represents Team Palestine for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund in Cape Town, ran the full marathon of 42kms, to raise funds for the construction of a new paediatric cancer unit in Gaza for children. Steenkamp holds first place for 2016 and 2017 respectively and is a member of Team Palestine for PCRF Cape Town since its inception in September 2015.
Speaking to VOC News from Bethlehem, Steenkamp conceded that it was a tough race.
“It went well in the beginning. We did our first loop of 21 kms but in the second loop, it went badly. I managed to get a lot of strength after 30 km and pulled through,” he recalled.
Over the past few years, Team Palestine for PCRF has been supporting the building of a unique medical centre to improve the lives of children suffering from cancer. The Dr. Musa and Suhaila Nasir Gaza Paediatric Cancer Department is the first of its kind.
Children in the Gaza Strip suffering from cancer lack the appropriate and advanced treatment needed to help them cope, survive, and heal from cancer.
“This is a cause very close to my heart. My main aim is to run to help all the kids in the Middle East with medical conditions,” said Steenkamp.
The PCRF – Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is an American registered Non-Profit Organization with over 23 years of experience in arranging cost-free medical care for sick and injured children in the Middle East that is not available to them locally. PCRF is able to do this by sending needy children abroad to hospitals in the US, Europe and other parts of the Middle East.
The primary objective of the PCRF is to identify and treat every child in the Middle East in need of specialized surgery not available to them locally. PCRF locates sponsors and runs volunteer medical missions to the Middle East in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, Pediatric Cardiology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Maxillofacial Surgery, Pediatric Urology, Ophthalmology, Vascular Surgery, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Pediatric Urology and Pediatric Surgery as well as many other specialties.
The Cape Town Chapter of PCRF has taken on the initiative and located doctors in South Africa who were willing to operate on and treat children on a charitable basis; as well as Team Palestine for PCRF to raise these funds.
The organisation says the success of its work is much dependent on the goodwill of doctors and hospitals as well as sportsmen and women from all over the world who are willing to donate their services and facilities to treat these children, who have no other means to receive the care that they need.
“Our work is also dependent on the hard work of volunteers who help us cultivate good relationships with their local hospitals and aid in raising awareness and much needed funds through support from our chapters.” VOC