Eritreans raise $500,000 in 24 hours for cancer patient

Eritreans in the diaspora have raised nearly 700,000 Canadian dollars ($560,000, £410,000) within a day of launching a fundraising campaign for a man back home to get treatment abroad for a rare form of blood cancer.

The money for Yonas Tsegay was raised through a GoFundMe appeal started by Canada-based Eritrean Mebrahtu Hidray.

In a video linked to the campaign, Mr Yonas and his family, who live in a village south of Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, describe their circumstances.

The recording shows he is clearly in pain. His wife, surrounded by their six young children, says he has had the disease for a year now.

The authorities told him to seek medical treatment abroad but his family is unable to afford this, she says.

Some days the children have to stay home from school to help their parents.

With the help of Eritrea-based YouTube channel Henpas Entertainment, the family decided to seek help through GoFundMe – and Eritreans in the diaspora responded immediately.

In the first 12 hours, more than 350,000 Canadian dollars were raised. The target of 400,000 Canadian dollars was surpassed, and a new target of 600,000 Canadian dollars was set. That amount too has now been surpassed, with 676,533 Canadian dollars raised following 11,800 donations.

Yosief Werke – who was among those involved in the fundraising effort – told BBC Tigrinya he had never seen such a response. He said many people were touched by Mr Yonas’s plea for help.

He suffers from Hodgkin lymphoma, which is described by the UK National Health Service (NHS) as an “uncommon” blood cancer that “can usually be treated successfully with chemotherapy alone, or chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy”.

The most common symptoms include a painless swelling in a lymph node, usually in the neck, armpit or groin. – BBC.

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