This article was originally published August 2016 in Palestine in America’s second annual print issue.

Team Palestine for Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) opened up its 2016 running season in Bethlehem, Palestine on April 1 when fifty-five international runners, including participants from Hong Kong, Italy, Costa Rica, Jordan, and the United States and traveled to Palestine to participate in the 4th annual Right to Movement Palestine Marathon.

Team Palestine for PCRF is a group of dedicated runners participating in various events with the ultimate goal of raising funds to continue PCRF’s work. The team was formed in 2010 by concerned individuals who wanted to support PCRF in fulfilling its mission of addressing the medical and humanitarian crisis facing youth in the Middle East, including any child in need, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background.

Since its inception, Team Palestine has participated in over 40 races and raised over $500,000. Team Palestine members traveled to Palestine, to not only run in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Palestine who were physically asserting their right to movement, but also to run in their beloved homeland, where the work of PCRF began.  The money raised from participating in the Right to Movement Palestine Marathon will go directly to supporting the building of the first and only pediatric oncology department in Gaza. To date, children in Gaza suffering from cancer lack the appropriate and advanced treatment needed to survive, heal, and cope with this horrible disease. We already know that PCRF is successful in offering this type of medical relief for the children of Palestine, as is evident in the already existing Huda Al Masri Pediatric Cancer Center built in 2013 in Beit Jala. Team Palestine for PCRF is proud to support the building of this unique pediatric oncology department in Gaza, which will help improve the lives of the children living there.

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1. Courageous children, who are receiving treatment at the Huda Al Masri Pediatric Cancer Center cheered on Team Palestine for PCRF runners .  Since its inception in 2013, the cancer center has provided treatment to over 400 children.  Having these children out there motivated runners to get through the steep hills of the course and finish strong. They are the reason why TP runs its miles.

2. TP4PCRF runner Mervin SteenKamp of Cape Town South Africa and other participants ran past the graffitied concrete wall of separation and isolation, which limits movements and space.  Still, walls can not block hope, love, and dedication.

3. TP4PCRF runners Souzan Naser, Amel Alqadah, and Serwa Ziadeh showed solidarity with those who have less freedom than they do . There’s no escaping the politics of the region with a course like this that highlights the difficulties of living under occupation. The race exposes runners to  the reality of children’s daily lives and lack of basic human rights.

4. Team Palestine runner Nisreen Abdelnabi taking on the streets of Palestine in her first ever half marathon race. Thirty three out of the fifty five TP runners were women.

5. A large team of doctors and nurses from Jordan, North and South America began a week-long mission to Rafidiah Hospital in Nablus. Team Palestine members were allowed to observe several medical and dental missions first hand.

6. “We came together as a community and raised funds to build the only pediatric cancer center in Gaza. We’re happy to share that building of the center has begun.”

7. Just days before they ran the Right to Movement Marathon with Team Palestine for PCRF the Chicago Alrayyes sisters crossed into Gaza to provide free dental care to children with special needs, on March 26, 2016.

8. TP4PCRF wins the gold at the 4th Annual Right To Movement Palestine Marathon. Hailing from Cape Town South Africa, TP4PCRF runner, Mervin Steenkamp, is paraded through Nativity Square with pride. A win for the the team and for the children.

9. Team members visited and toured the Huda Al Masri Pediatric Oncology Department in Beit Jala. Two years after the opening of the department, the PCRF opened the Healing Garden which is an extension of the department and will enable children to have a relaxing environment to help heal and play while they undergo complicated and difficult treatment. Photographed: Team Captains Souzan Naser and Rush Darwish with Founder of PCRF Steve Sosebee. Also in photos team members Nader Abuzir and Nisreen Abdelnabi.

10. Children who are suffering from cancer have virtually no care at all in the Gaza Strip. Over 50 Team Palestine for PCRF runners from all over the US and abroad called on their courage to run in Bethlehem, Palestine to raise awareness and funds to help support the incredible work of the PCRF. Our motto ‘Every Mile Saves a Child.’

Purchase a copy of Palestine in America’s second annual print issue here.

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