Nour, with Ahmed, 14, one of the children PCRF was treating with a prosthetic leg in Detroit after being shot by an Israeli sniper.
Tell me about yourself and how you came to be involved with PCRF.
I’ve been a PCRF board member for the past 5 years. I’m a social media coordinator for the Detroit chapter. I got involved about 5 years ago. I knew about PCRF before that, but we never had a chapter in Michigan. I have a family friend who is a doctor and he does a lot of work with PCRF, he goes on a lot of missions to Gaza and the West Bank. So I knew of PCRF but there was no chapter here.
One day I was on [social media] and someone had mentioned going to a Ramadan dinner and that the proceeds of the dinner were going to go to PCRF. So I had messaged the person who was in charge of the event, Yasmin Hamed, who is now the PCRF Detroit chapter president.I messaged her and told her that I really want to get involved and I ended up meeting up with her about 3 days later. And after getting involved with them and working with them on the event, I was like you know I really want to continue doing this, and they were really excited about other people getting involved too and they received such positive feedback that we all just decided to start the chapter, Detroit chapter, since we didn’t have one. And then within 4 or 5 months we ended up bringing a kid over from Gaza to receive a prosthetic leg. His name is Muath. He was one of our first kids, and he lost his leg to cancer, and at the same time, his mom died from leukemia. He was here for about 6 months and he received a prosthetic leg.
After working with him, and spending so much time with him, I started getting heavily involved with PCRF. Because when you donate your time to something, you want to know exactly what you’re donating your time and money to. Being able to see that this is what we fundraised for, and this is what we were able to do, we were able to help this kid receive a prosthetic leg. At the beginning of the first dinner, we thought only 200 people were going to show up, and by the end of the three weeks, we ended up having 400 people.
We do a lot of advertisement when the kids come. If anyone sponsors our dinners, we make sure we take them to [the sponsor’s] place of business, or we take them to have dinner with them, or let them hang out with the kids, or we do meet and greets when they first come, just so people can see, look this is what your money is going to. That way when we do have our annual dinner, we don’t have to beg people to attend, people just want to attend, they want to help. That’s what happened. [A few days ago] was our 5th annual Ramadan dinner and we sold out within 3 days. We sold almost 800 tickets. We’re able to do that because we have a good relationship with the community, and the community sees where their money is going, so they’re very generous when it comes to our events.
Describe your experience working with PCRF.
I cant explain, it’s just something that you have to experience. When you meet these kids, and you’re able to change their lives… Muath, he still sends me text messages and Facebook messages, his family is still in contact…We had a weekly ritual of going to get burgers. His favourite was a burger from Burger King, a Sprite, and then getting vanilla ice-cream and going bowling. He was obsessed with bowling. We did this every week. Me and a couple of other volunteers, we would take him out. Until this day he still remembers it, and he still asks about it.
11 year old Muath, enjoying a burger in Detroit with his PCRF family.
To describe PCRF, you think you’re changing someone’s life, but you yourself change and become a better person. I appreciate everything that I have much more after seeing these kids. They come from nothing and they’re still so happy. It’s made me appreciate and be so much more grateful for everything I have.
Has anything surprised you about working with PCRF?
How involved they are with the kids even after they go back. So like I said, Muath, he left 3 years ago, and till this day, we still receive monthly updates on him. He is still being tutored by the PCRF. He has a college fund started for him. All the money that is raised for these kids…well that money goes into a college fund for them.. Muath, after high school, he can go to college because he has that money. So it’s nice that we receive monthly updates on them, their report cards… They want you involved even after they leave, they want to better their lives even after they go back home.
What’s one of the biggest challenges?
Saying goodbye to these kids. You get attached to them…They got that little bit of freedom, especially the kids from Gaza. Having a hamburger was like a gourmet meal for Muath. To see him going back to living in poverty, to living in a refugee camp, and not being able to go bowling, I think that was the hardest. It’s still very hard to deal with.
All of the Detroit chapter’s board members are women. How do you think this has contributed to your success?
All the board members other than me are women with kids. They’re all mothers. A couple of them also work full-time and some are in school full-time too. So they all have very busy lives, but PCRF is so important to them that they will make time for it.
We’re so compassionate. We debate a lot about certain things we want to do for events, but at the end of the day, our main goal and focus is to make money for the organization, to educate people about the organization, and to help these kids. Alhamdullilah, we don’t have issues within the organization. Everyone is happy to be there and everyone is very helpful and everyone wants PCRF to succeed, wants our events to succeed. I am blessed to be able to work with women who have the same goals and who are focused on the same things.
What can people do to help out?
Volunteer! They can apply to volunteer on the website, and we will get their information automatically. We especially like to have more volunteers when we bring a kid here, so they can take them out, take them to appointments, or just hang out with them. All the information on getting involved is on our website.