Between 1983 to 2005, approximately 2.5 million people were killed during Sudan’s brutal civil war. Malik Agobi was determined not to let his family be counted in that number. After many trials and hardships, including the constant fear that his teenage children would be forcibly enlisted in the army, Malik found a way for his family to escape. In 2002, he took his wife and their five children and fled to Egypt as refugees. It was soon after this journey out of Sudan that his journey with cancer would begin.
It started with searing pain in his jaw and grew worse with each day. Malik sought treatment from various doctors, but because his family had fled Sudan with little money, they had nothing to spare on medical bills, and he had to resort to substandard care—a botched procedure which involved burning the inside of his mouth. Malik suffered from intense jaw pain for three years until his family finally received their invitation to enter the United States as refugees.
Soon after arriving in Nashville in 2005 via Catholic Charities’ resettlement program, Malik was diagnosed with metastatic adenoid cystic carcinoma of the maxillary sinus, otherwise known as cancer of the facial sinuses. As his wife and children began the overwhelming process of acclimating to American culture (how to navigate the grocery store, how to use public transportation, how to be a student in the American school system, how to speak English—Malik was the only person in the family who could speak English when they first arrived), they were simultaneously watching the leader of their family die. One half of his jaw was removed, and he endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy, causing the cancer to go into remission just long enough for his family to have hope. Then the cancer returned, this time in his lungs and liver. Malik now requires 24-hour a day assistance, and has been sent home to die. Doctors have estimated that he has a maximum of three months to live.
This in itself is difficult enough for the family, but in order for Malik to receive the care he needs, his wife Astarina has quit her job at Tyson Foods. Astarina was the only income provider for the family, and although she has been granted a six-month leave, she will not be receiving pay. Without Astarina’s income, the family has no money for food, utilities or the upcoming funeral costs. Malik’s oldest children, Wilson (22) and Iva (21), are full-time students at Nashville State, and although they have insisted on dropping-out to take care of their father, their parents want nothing more than to see their children receive the education that was never available to them.
Danny (eight-years-old) knows his father is sick, but doesn’t yet know that he is dying. Every day he asks questions: “Is daddy very, very, very sick?” “Why are these people coming to our house?” Ronald (10) and Sam (14) are having great difficulty coping with what is happening at home. Sam, usually a mild-mannered child who has never been in trouble at school, was suspended for being too aggressive with another child, and his teachers say that he is letting out his confusion and sadness in the only way he seems to know how.
Nashville International Center for Empowerment is conducting a fundraiser on the Agobi’s behalf to help them survive this saddening ordeal. For a family who has overcome so much together, they have faith that they will survive this, but they still need help. If you can make a donation, you may do so by clicking on the Crowdrise logo. This will take you to our fundraising website for the Agobi family. In addition, you may write a check to Nashville International Center for Empowerment, make a note that it is for the Agobi Family Fundraiser and either deliver it or mail it to us at 3221 Nolensville Pike, Suite 103, Nashville 37211. All donations are tax deductible.
Average monthly expenses for the Agobi family are as follows:
Transportation (gas) $250
Food (for family of 7) $800-$900
Total Food & Utilities $2115-$2215/month
Anticipated Funeral Costs $6,000
Total Funds needed for 3 Months $12,645