Inside the Samaritan’s Purse

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Monrovia- The Christian International Relief Organization, Samaritan’s Purse, has demonstrated its true meaning. In their words: ‘Samaritan’s Purse travels the world’s highways looking for victims along the way. We are quick to bandage the wounds we see, but like the Samaritan, we don’t stop there. In addition to meeting immediate, emergency needs, we help these victims recover and get back on their feet’. They demonstrated every bit of those words.

When Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Holy Bible, he iterated that the Samaritan was a stranger, quite unlikely, under normal circumstances to have helped the man believed to have been beaten by robbers. Amongst the passengers was a Priest, Levite, who presumably out of fear for their own safety, chose to look the other way and moved on. 

Strangely, the Samaritan subordinated his safety and moved to help the afflicted man. He delved first into his heart, bandaged the wounds of the victim, placed him on his donkey, took him to an inn, looked inside his purse and paid his expenses. Inside his purse came humility, compassion, unconditional love, generosity and selflessness. He looked beyond the nationality of the victim and stepped out to help him.

Samaritan’s Purse has demonstrated this act of bravery and selflessness by her actions in Liberia. Liberia is one of three West African countries that got struck by the deadly Ebola virus with a massive outbreak occurring almost simultaneously.  According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), August 11, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia and WHO have reported 670 suspect and confirmed EHF cases (including 166 laboratory confirmations) and 355 reported fatalities.

The World Health Organization, in partnership with the Ministries of Health in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria announced a cumulative total of 1975 suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and 1069 deaths, as of August 11, 2014. Of the 1975 clinical cases, 1251 cases have been laboratory confirmed for Ebola virus infection.

According to the CDC, Genetic analysis of the virus indicates that it is closely related (97% identical) to variants of Ebola virus (species Zaire ebolavirus) identified earlier in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon (Baize et al. 2014).

Expatriate workers working with the Samaritan’s Purse put themselves on the frontline by catering to patients infected with the virus at the Ebola isolation unit at the ELWA hospital in Monrovia.

While taking care of those victims, two of their employees including a medical doctor contracted the deadly virus. This struck a major turning point in the fight of the virus and the care of infected patients. The expatriate workers became isolated and were eventually evacuated to the United States for intensive care and treatment. The actions of the Samaritan’s Purse expatriates continue to herald a strong message of service to humanity and global consciousness.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in his sermon speech “I’ve been to the mountain top’ contextualized the parable told by Jesus about the Good Samaritan. According to Dr. King, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, the setting of the parable, looked like a dangerous path and a perfect trap by robbers. Dr. King, explained that he understood why the previous passers refused to stop.  He reversed the question the Samaritan might have posed to himself upon seeing the battered victim. Unlike the previous travelers-the Priest and Levite, who out of fear of their personal safety and considering the history of the locality where the man laid, apparently asked themselves ‘what would happen to me if I stop and help that man’ the Samaritan described as being a good man instead asked ‘What would happen to him if I don’t help him’? Like Dr. King referenced, this is the question I believe those heroes asked themselves when they chose to help under extremely dangerous conditions.  With the right question, there were able to bring to us the necessary help.

The act of selflessness by Samaritan’s Purse highlights a lot of lessons for Liberians and humanity at large. There are lots of lessons to cue from and we can emulate in whatever form in helping the fight against Ebola. From joining the efforts of the government and other organizations in raising awareness, creating sensitization centered on constant hand washing, avoiding physical contacts, shifting from cultural practices that tend to undermine the fight, etc.

It involves leadership at every level, state, religious, traditional, cultural and community level.  Each of us, who leads in our communities, ought to show some sort of leadership by stopping denials, exposing runaway suspects, reporting suspected cases, and enforcing the message of universal precautions.  We could choose to hide in the safety of our homes, comfort zones and ask ourselves what would happen to us if we step up and volunteer or reverse the question like the Samaritan and ask what would happen to our country if we don’t volunteer and join the fight. We cannot keep standing and let others die for us.

It is noteworthy that no one is assured of immunity when a neighbor is infected. We unknowingly give more to ourselves when we gave back to society by joining the fight. As we keep praying for the lives of the two infected members of the Samaritan’s purse, we also laud the heroic efforts of the health workers in Liberia and other nationals, including the expatriate staffs at the St. Joseph Catholic hospital, and the sacrifices of all those who lost their lives in the fight, trying to save others. By sustaining the fight and ensuring that Ebola becomes history, we ensure that they did not die in vain. We can only truly honor their memories when we someday bury Ebola. 

Like Christ said after his parable of the Good Samaritan, ‘Go and do likewise’.

The time is act is now.

About the Author:

Lekpele Nyamalon is a Liberian and lives in Monrovia Liberia. He can be reached at [email protected]

References:

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/medical/

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/index.html

http://mlkkpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/ive_been_to_the_mountaintop/

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