While working with medical disaster response teams in varied parts of the world, I have become convinced that “peace and justice” are very activist terms in both profound and often simple ways. I like to go with the theme, “I am here to help where I can, but I also want to learn from you.” And the rewards can be huge.
I am reminded of tiny fingers. It had been a long and busy day in Singe camp in Liberia. We were tired. It had included many very ill people. One man was brought in a wheelbarrow, steadied and supported by four others. He had fallen while climbing a palm tree and his hip appeared fractured. At the end of that day I stood with my medical pack waiting for our large vehicle to be readied. The load included two very ill patients needing hospitalization, each accompanied by a family member. Standing there surrounded by many mud huts, I felt a little hand reach up and take my hand. I looked down and smiled at a tiny boy. Soon many hands grasped mine on both sides. Such pleasure!
I met little Flomo in another refugee camp in Liberia. He was near death and carried by his mother up a muddy hill among tiny thatch roofed huts. His father had vanished in the warfare. We transported them over the lengthy mostly dirt road to a tiny hospital near Monrovia. One lung was surrounded by fluid and was collapsed. He had tuberculosis. The fluid was drained and anti-tuberculous drugs were found with difficulty and started. As Flomo improved, each evening when I’d stop to see him he’d plead, “Go with you? Go with you?” His request gripped me deeply. In dim morning light a week later we returned him and his mother to the refugee camp. As I walked from the hospital toward the waiting Landcruiser, I felt a tiny hand reach up and grasp my hand. We walked together. Such a pleasure.
Contributed by Ken Magee, Klamath Falls