02/17/2023, 14.42
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Mercithon 23 Dubai: Church launches fundraiser for migrants with cancer

The goal is to raise at least one million dollars to treat 53 people, aged 22 to 80, from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Pakistan and Nigeria. The initiative includes a walk next Sunday. Government agencies are among the sponsors.

Dubai (AsiaNews) – St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), has launched a campaign to raise funds to help cancer patients who lack the financial means to pay for their treatment, especially migrant workers from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Pakistan and Nigeria who could not otherwise pay for medical drugs and hospital care.

For the promoters of the initiative, this is a way to show the other side of the emirate, often celebrated for its buoyant economy and investment possibilities, which sometimes comes with a price paid by a mass of exploited and marginalised workers.

The fundraiser promoted by Dubai's oldest parish is expected to benefit 53 poor cancer patients. Dubbed Mercithon 23, it includes a walk next Sunday that starts at the Dubai Creek Park.

The walkathon also seeks to raise awareness among the local and immigrant communities of the importance of financial assistance and healthcare for low-wage workers affected by life-threatening diseases and requiring long-term, expensive care.

The aim, organisers told The National newspaper, is, first of all, to break down the financial barriers that hinder care, and raise Dh4 million (US$ 1.08 million) from businesses and the general public.

The patients involved are aged 22 to 80 years and in most cases have a disease that can be treated with appropriate care.

Ahead of the Mercithon, about a thousand students from St Mary’s Catholic school on Wednesday came together to promote awareness among families and society. They lined up to form the famous ribbon, symbol of the fight against cancer (pictured), in the parish gardens, as well as the number 51 to represent the number of years since the seven emirates federated.

Additionally, the event is designed to thank government agencies that support patients with limited means. Public fund-raising is strictly regulated and requires government authorisation.

Significantly, the event was sponsored by the Dubai Health Authority and the Community Development Authority.

The Mercithon charity walk will start at 8 am and end at 4 pm. All information is available on the parish’s website.

“We stand together for a great cause to help cancer warriors who have such a strong will to live,” said Fr Lennie Connully, St Mary’s parish priest. “The patients we hope to support are from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Pakistan and Nigeria.”

Many of the patients work as babysitters, domestic workers, cleaners and maintenance staff. “We want to show solidarity with needy cancer patients who have courage and determination to fight this,” Fr Connully added.

Event organisers hope to see at least 15,000 people show up this weekend.

Evan Rose, a sales executive from the Philippines, was overwhelmed by the number of people coming together to help underprivileged residents.

The 42-year-old has stage three breast cancer but cannot afford the cost of chemotherapy and has spent hundreds of dollars over the past year on medication to control the infections and bleeding caused by the cancer.

“I don’t want to die, I really want this thing to be removed,” she said. “I want to be an inspiration as a person who fought cancer” because “Cancer is curable and I’m hopeful I can start treatment soon.”

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