Gary & Nanci Segal
While visiting Dr. Hodes on a follow-up trip to Ethiopia in 2008 with Nanci, Gary learned about Tesfaye’s plight. At the age of 8, Tesfaye was struck with TB, causing his spine to collapse. At the age of 13, Tesfaye (which means “My Hope” in Amharic) left his remote village in Gojam Ethiopia on a “journey of hope” to cure his back.
Dr. Hodes has found help for thousands in desperate need, but Tesfaye was not so lucky; his case was too complicated for the available options. Gary spent almost a year pursuing the possibility of bringing Tesfaye to Vancouver for spine surgery and finally on his 18th birthday, May 20, 2009, Tesfaye arrived in Vancouver and was welcomed into the Segal home. On June 12th, “Team Tesfaye,” led by surgeon Dr. Marcel Dvorak at VGH, brought HOPE back to this young man by successfully performing delicate 14-hour life-saving surgery. After living with the Segals for 6 months and then returning to Addis Ababa, a few months later Tesfaye went back to his remote village in the Gojam countryside, accompanied by Gary. Tesfaye’s family saw him standing straight for the first time since he was 8 years old, and the whole village celebrated his miraculous “rebirth” during their 3-day visit.
Tesfaye has embraced his new life with a sense of joy, enthusiasm and gratitude, along with a desire to succeed and “pay forward” to others his own good fortune. He is a valued member of the Segal family with his infectious personality, smile, optimism and sense of humour. Tesfaye will return to Vancouver for Bring Back Hope 2017, if possible along with his younger sister Fantaye, the unexpected beneficiary of .a "ripple effect" from Tesfaye's transformation by being "rescued" from an arranged marriage at the age of 12 in the village.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
– Teddy Roosevelt