Right to left: Peter Legge interviews Dr. Rick Hodes and Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei. Three of Hodes’ adopted children joined them onstage. (photo by Cynthia Ramsay)
An Evening to Bring Back Hope on June 8 raised almost $2 million for the work of Dr. Rick Hodes, medical director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and senior consultant at Mother Teresa Mission; spine surgeon Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, president and founder of FOCOS (Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine) in Ghana; and the University of British Columbia Branch for International Surgical Care.
The evening at Vancouver Convention Centre-East began with remarks from representatives of the three main religious communities in attendance: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. A two-minute video that was introduced by Justin Segal – son of gala co-chairs Gary and Nanci Segal – and Tesfaye Anagaw – who has become a part of the Segal family – showed the many things that had been accomplished with the funds raised at the previous Evening to Bring Back Hope, which took place in 2012.
There were greetings from senior representatives of JDC, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the UBC Branch, as well as an onstage interview by Peter Legge of Hodes and Boachie-Adjei, with many stories about the courage of their patients.
Gary Segal spoke about how he was inspired to help by Anagaw, Hodes and Boachie-Adjei. He met first met Hodes as part of a 2007 Federation/JDC trip to Ethiopia, where he learned that Anagaw’s spine had collapsed from tuberculosis and could not be operated on in Ghana. With the help of the Segals and others, the young man, then 18, arrived here in mid-2009 and received the life-saving surgery he needed at Vancouver General Hospital.
The story of Mesfin Yanna, one of Hodes’ heart patients, was told through a video and the reading of an essay he wrote for his high school graduation in Atlanta – these were followed by his appearance onstage, holding his 5-year-old son. “This is a man who would have died twice were it not for Rick but has gone onto a productive life and one of giving back,” said Segal after the event.
Looking back, he said the event achieved his main goals: raising a large sum of money to support Hodes’ work and save as many lives as possible, to “inspire everyone in the room and, for at least that one night, bring a ray of light into an often-dark world filled with unfathomable violence and infuse people with a message of hope for our common humanity.”
Both Hodes (with three of his adopted sons) and Anagaw came to Vancouver from Ethiopia for the event, and stayed for a visit.