The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund was created in 1991 to help provide free medical service to Palestinian children. Since then it has expanded its breadth of service to other Middle Eastern nations. The fund locates free medical care throughout Europe, North America, and the Middle East, and makes this care available to the children in need. They also send volunteer medical missions directly to the Middle East.
One of the men who leads these missions is maxillofacial surgeon Khaled Abughazaleh. He’s the head of the PCRF’s Chicago chapter. A 1992 graduate of the University of Jordan, Abughazaleh earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He’s a part-time professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in addition to running his own oral surgery private practice. Abughazaleh has led several volunteer surgical missions to Palestine, and he’ll be leading another one leaving later this month.
Born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents, Abughazaleh came to the U.S. when he was 9 months old and then moved back to the Middle East 10 years later. He’s lived in the U.S. since coming back to earn his doctorate.
He’s a successful man who’s giving back to his parents’ homeland and getting nothing in return. For that, he’s our Man of the Day.
We caught up with Abughazaleh for a quick interview:
Why get involved with the PCRF? Why offer your skills in such a way?
It’s something I wanted to do ever since I was a kid—somehow help people back in Palestine. There’s different ways to resist the occupation and to help the people. One way I thought—since my father was a physician—was to be able to help people by giving back with my surgical skills. When I was a kid it wasn’t necessarily as a surgeon, but more maybe in the health care field. I’ve always wanted to do that. After I finished my residency and started practicing, Steve [Sosebee] from PCRF contacted me, and the rest was history.
Are you a good man? Why or why not?
I hope I’m a good man. I like to say I’m a good man, but I guess that’s usually something where other people judge you and let you know whether you’re a good man or not. God will let you know whether you’re a good man or not.
I guess I am. I try to be a good man, be good at what I do, good at work and at home, and give back to the community. I try and give back to the less fortunate people. In those aspects I hope that I am, but then again, other people will judge that.
What makes a good man, in your eyes?
Honesty and trustworthiness are very important things. I’m Muslim and we believe in the prophet Mohammed. He used to be called “the honest, trustworthy person” by his people before, even before he became a prophet. Even when he was persecuted in Mecca and sent into exile by his people to Medina, they would trust him with their belongings, and he’d give their belongings back to them even though they were sending him into exile. Those two characteristics in a person, even if he’s your enemy, comprise a good man. Those two characteristics in particular will make for a good person.
Who’s been the ultimate good man in your life?
If I have to name one person, I’m going to name my father. My father is also a physician. My generation, we kind of had things handed to us, while his generation—especially what they underwent with the occupation and everything—they basically started out from scratch. They had nothing. They were self-made. My father came to this country, did his residency against all odds, and raised a family. And the whole time, the goals he had in front of him were just to take care of his family and to take care of others. For us, we had it all made. Going through school, we all had the material to do it, and it was easy for us to do. That’s why I want to try and give back now.
What other men would you nominate as a Man of the Day? What guys, like you, are doing equally awesome things?
Dr. Rafael Ruiz from Mexico. He’s the one who opened my eyes to doing charity work when I was a second-year resident. He’s been doing charity work in Mexico and Latin America for over 30 years. He’s come to the U.S. to do cleft-lip and palate work. Now, about 17 years later, he’s been with me to Palestine over five, six times. This guy is just amazing. He travels the world doing charity work. He spends over 150 days a year doing volunteer work.
Somebody else is Steve Sosebee, the head of the PCRF. He’s built this organization from nothing, back in 1991, to what it is now. He’s dedicated his life to it, and it’s become a huge organization.