Chichi Analogbei has just two weeks to raise £4,000 or lose her dream and that of her late father of becoming a lawyer. Catherine Scott finds out why.
Chiyenum Analogbei’s father’s dream was to see his daughter become a lawyer.
A banker in Nigeria, he worked hard to earn the money to send Chichi, as she is known to friends, to Leeds University to study law.
“It was his dream and my dream also,” says Chichi.
“He worked hard and I worked hard as I had to get an A to get into Leeds. He was so thrilled when he drove me to the airport that I was travelling to England to study law.”
It was the last time that Chichi would see her father alive.
Unknown to her, while she was studying in Leeds, back home in Nigeria her beloved father was struck down by breast cancer.
“I never even knew that men could get breast cancer,” says Chichi, who knew no one when she moved to Leeds as a teenager. She had no family in the UK and said that she relied heavily on the support of the university and the church. “I really missed my family but when I felt lonely I go to the university counselling service or the church and they would help me. I also made a lot of good friends.”
In the holidays she couldn’t afford to return home and so would do voluntary work for local charities including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
It was as she started her final year that it became clear that Chichi would not be able to complete her studies.
“My father was the main bread-winner in our family – I also have a brother and a sister – but when he became too ill to work I knew that I would have to delay my studies.”
Chichi decided to take a gap year and returned home to Nigeria with the aim of helping to look after her father.
But by the time she got there it was too late and she never saw him before he died.
Her pain is clear in her voice as she recalls it.
“All he wanted was to see me graduate and become a lawyer. His death made me even more determined to fulfill his faith in me. My dad’s only wish was to see me become a law graduate and in the midst of everything that is going on, this is what pushes me .”
Chichi managed to defer her place and hopes to restart her education in September but she needs to raise £10,500 to pay for her fees which have to be paid by the end of July.
“Education is really important to me and I want nothing more than to finish with a good degree from my university. I am appealing for help in raising money for my tuition which is £10,500 in order to resume my studies in September and complete my degree.”
Chichi decided to set up a Go Fund Me page.
GoFundMe, provides a platform for people to organise their own campaign to raise money for personal causes and life events and invite those in their community to support their fundraising.
To date, GoFundMe donations in the Yorkshire area have increased by 1060 per cent between 2013 and 2014 for a whole host of different causes from medical expenses, education costs, volunteer programmes, youth sports to funerals and memorials – even animals and pets.
Since setting up her page just a few weeks ago Chichi has raised more than £6,500, although she still needs to raise another £4,000 in the next two weeks.
“When I set up this GoFundMe page, I had no idea the level of support and kindness I would receive,” she says. “I am so incredibly grateful for the donations I have received to date and it would mean the world to me if I could meet my goal and fulfil my father’s dream of becoming a law graduate.”
“Chichi’s GoFundMe campaign is incredibly inspiring and it’s amazing to see the support she has received to date,” says Kelsea Little, media director at GoFundMe.com
“We are so pleased that we can provide a platform to support Chichi’s education and we really hope that the final push in donations will enable her to complete her final year at University.”
Chichi has not decided whether she will stay in Leeds or return to Nigeria once she graduates, hopefully next July.
“I am just concentrating on getting through my final year and getting my degree and haven’t given much thought to after that. I might like to stay in England, as people have been very kind to me here. I did some volunteering for the CAB and I have seen first hand just how important the law is to people who need their services. I have always been interested in the law and how it can help people.
“I really hope that I can raise the money to complete my studies, the only sad thing will be that my father won’t be there to see me graduate as he wished. Although I know wherever he is he will be looking down and me and he will be extremely proud.”
As well as raising the money to allow her to graduate, Chichi has one other thing on her mind.
“I never knew that men could suffer from breast cancer, and so I really want to raise awareness of this fact,” says the 21-year-old.
“I want to urge men to realise that this isn’t just a disease that affects women and they really need to check themselves regularly as well.”
Chichi’s father died of the condition just before his 60th birthday.
Breast cancer is still quite rare in men with 350 diagnosed each year in the UK compared to 50,000 caseds of breast cancer in women.
Most cases of breast cancer in men are diagnosed between the ages of 60 and 70.
The symptoms and treatment is similar for men as women.
“It is important to me to get the message across that it can happen in men as well as women,” says Chichi. “May be if my father had known more about it it might have been a different ending.
Chichi is raising money through GoFundMe, which has helped raise over £6,500. To help ChiChi and donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/pj7qhc