IN YOUR CORNER: Local leaders call for COVID-19 help for stranded refugees

In Your Corner

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The owner of a local printer business is working to help refugee centers wracked with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the busy season for The Printers of Oklahoma. Countless candidates are hoping to have their message spread, in part, by the full service printing facility.

But behind the scenes, Awet Tsehaye is spreading his own message of hope.

“We have two choices,” he said. “The first choice is obviously do nothing, and the second choice is do what we can.”

Awet is originally from Eritrea. The African country is known for human rights abuses, and Awet says it’s been labeled the North Korea of Africa.

“There is no freedom of religion, no freedom of press, no constitution, no process in place for people to live peacefully,” he added. “So as a result people are leaving the country in droves, for better lives.”

Thousands of refugees flee, and many wind up in refugee camps in Ethiopia.

Awet says the camps have extremely cramped living quarters, further complicated by the worldwide pandemic.

“COVID-19 is a challenge worldwide. But just imagine in refugee camps, they literally have nothing,” he said. “Not enough food, not enough water, not enough healthcare equipment.”

Halefe Haddish was once an Eritrian refugee himself. Now he, Awet, and countless more across the US are giving back to those in desperate need.

“These people, they’re all staying together, very close,” said Halefe. “So if there is one patient, then the worst situation will come.”

“We mobilized many Eritreans throughout the world,” said Awet. “We’ve got 11 countries worldwide, got about 41 cities in the states.”

Oklahomans can join their cause by donating to the Eri Yiakl Foundation-Oklahoma. The goal is to raise money, for much needed supplies and PPE for refugees.

“Distributing food, and masks, and soap,” said Awet. “Anything related to COVID-19.”

Awet is well known in the Oklahoma City Area. The frequent philanthropist even joined our fan drive a few years back.

But now, he and thousands of others need your help. To date the movement has raised around $700-thousand, nearly half of their $1.5-million goal.

They are working in conjunction with the Ethar Relief nonprofit, which has volunteers on the ground in Ethiopia.

Want to donate? There are a list of ways you can help:

Visit the group’s Go Fund Me.

Donate to the group’s bank account:

Bank of America: 

Eri Yiakl Foundation

Acct #: 4460 4596 6585

Donate via Cashapp: $Yiakl or eriyiaklfoundation@gmail.com

Donate via PayPal: @yiakl or PayPal.me/yiakl

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