"When my mom asked me to accompany her to a doctor appointment at Winship for a cousin who just arrived to the U.S. with his wife and 3 yr old son, I had no idea what was next. The last 6 months helping Neamn Shiker Redae navigate our healthcare, medicaid, disability, cancer treatment at Winship, etc. has been intense and emotion filled. Often, everything felt like a fight. It was also a gift.
Neamn and his wife Haben's journey to the U.S. was unimaginable. They escaped Eritrea due to the forced miliary service, snuck to Sudan, worked their way to Libya, and eventually saved enough to pay smugglers to guide them on a voyage acrosss the Mediterranean on basically a raft for 5 nights and 6 days. They were in their early 20s. Not knowing how to swim, not sure if they would survive, they didn't make it to Italy, but the did make it to Malta. There, they found work, and began the process to come to the U.S. They also welcomed a sweet baby boy, Murad. After living and working in Malta for three years, they were granted refugee status and were set to arrive in Atl on August 15, 2016. In Malta, they were never given full refugee status, so they were forced to work shity jobs. Neamn worked 12-15 hour days, often 7 days a week in a cramped, chemical filled basement. It is likely that his nasal cancer was caused by his work conditions. Several other people who workd with him also were later found to have tumors in their thorat and lungs.
Shortly after their arrival in the U.S. Neamn found a great apt, got a job, and earned his driver's license. One of my favorite things that he shared with me is that he didn't want to get a job at the DeKalb Farmer's Market or anywhere where there were a lot of Eritreans becuase he wanted to improve and expand his English..so he worked at a meat processing plan in Newnan. He also didn;t like the location of the apt. the refugee resettlement agency assigned him, so we worked overtime, got out of his lease legally, and found a better place for his family that felt safe and had good schools for his son.
In March, Neamn was diagnosed with Stage 4 nasal cancer...mind you, he was only 27 at the time of his diagnosis. According to Winshp, this is a super rare cancer and it tore through his body at an unimaginable speed. He didn't have a car, so our long early morning weekly car rides, doctors appts were filled with laughs and quiet time. The appointments were stressful, making sure they had translators at Winship, going to DCFS for his healthcare, social security for disability, all of it. Everyone always said no first, but then we just had to fight. The other members of the Eritrean community who showed up, helped drive Neamn to appts, accompany him, talk to him, check in on his family, really serve as their famiy, are too countless to name. Specifically, thank you Senait, Kalab, his uncle Gabe, My Mom, Bayanu, the team at World Relief, Mike Hoffer and Sergio, his social worker at Winship,Summer, his oncologist Dr. Shin and Dr. Eaton. .
Neamn exhibited such strength and courage along the way, I don't have the words or capacity to describe his bravery and the lessons I learned from him. I just think his story should be shared.
Today, we will celebrate his life and pray for his soul and body's safe return back to Eritrea. His body will be buried in Eritrea so that his parents and siblings can say their proper goodbye.
Lastly, he passed way on his son's birthday. Holding on, so that rather than saddness, on August 1, his family and friends could celebrate his passing, his beautiful life, and the people he loved most in this world, his wife Haben and their son, Murad. Here is a picture of Murad on his 4th bday."
Haben and Murad are going to need financial help in the coming months. Please do what you can"
This is written by Lula Dawit. She is the cousin of Haben, wife of Neamin. Very beautifully written!
- Michael Zergaber
- Shishay Teklesenbet gebremichal
- Bahlibi Tekle
- Bekuri Bisrat
- Medhanie Mihreteab
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