A young man dying from cancer had one last wish: To see his family in Ghana once more. So his village in Italy raised money for his flight. The Pope spoke of this story during his Sunday prayers.
When a young migrant, suffering from terminal cancer, expressed the wish to travel home to embrace his father, the locals in a small village in northern Italy did everything in their power to fulfill his wish. This moving story was recounted by Pope Francis in his Sunday prayers at the Vatican this week.
The young migrant’s story
The 25-year-old migrant from Ghana named John reportedly landed on the island of Lampedusa a few years ago and later settled in the Italian village of Monferrato — 7,000 kilometers away from his home country.
According to the Pope, John found work in a vineyard in Vignale Monferrato, but had to stop working when he fell ill with liver cancer.
Therapy reportedly did not manage to stop the tumour from growing and the condition of the young Ghanaian, under medical care at the Monsignor Zaccheo’ hospice in Casale Monferrato, got worse quickly.
John, a practicing Catholic, reportedly told all those assisting him — doctors, nurses, psychologists — of his desire to return home and to embrace his family — his father and brothers — once more.
Village raises money for trip to Ghana
To fulfil the young man’s wish, his village in Italy took action. Locals reportedly organized a trip to for him and someone to accompany him. They raised money for the flights and medicine.
“Everyone came together for a young man and this is a story that cannot remain in your heart. And when today we heard ourselves spoken of by Pope Francis, we could not help but be flattered and proud of the work done,” the hospice said.
Once in Ghana, John sent a voice message to the mayor of the village, Tina Corona, and councillor Gian Mario Cotti, saying: “I am fine. A bit better, yes. We have arrived. Thank you. Thank you so much. Give my greetings to all of Vignale, my family, home and everything.”
Hoping to set a positive example
Gabriella Gaudio, the owner of the agricultural firm in which John’s housemate worked, was reportedly by the side of John during this difficult time. “Since I found out, I did not leave him alone. I will never forget when he said goodbye to me and he hugged me, saying: ‘you are my mother’,” she said. He reportedly had lost his real mother when he was only 11 years old.
“Despite the pain and suffering,” Gaudio said, “he was pure, with a good soul. Almost as if what he had gone through had not embittered him. From age 14 to age 16 he was in Libya, then he arrived on Lampedusa, with both his body and soul injured. A cooperative enabled him to come to Vignale, which was a chance [for a new start.]”
“We never abandoned him,” the mayor said, with tears in her eyes. “I am proud of my community, of my people, the work team… If […] the example set by Vignale can serve others, then visibility is welcome. If good things are emulated, then that is good.”