The following is dramatization based on real events.
Charles Smith had been afraid when he first heard of Ebola. Rumors had been swirling for weeks, but he had not believed them until men from the government rode through West Point with loudspeakers telling them that Ebola was in West Point. They warned to watch for people with fevers and vomiting.
That was also when his doubts about Ebola began. Fever, vomiting? Malaria causes those symptoms too. After 14 years of civil war, he had been lied to by the government before and this did not ring true. His doubts were increased when “health workers” came to West Point wearing suits that we all white and covered them head to toe. He had seen things like this in American films.
West Point, a peninsula in Western Monrovia, was known for its poverty and squalid conditions. 50,000 people share two groups of public toilets (that most can’t afford). The beaches are littered with human waste waiting for the tides to come in and wash it away.
When he heard from friends that even doctors were saying there was no such thing as Ebola, he knew this was a coverup for something else. Something evil. Rumors were spreading that white men were eating people in the white tents and at the ELWA hospital. The posting of signs throughout Monrovia did not impress Charles. Like 75% of Liberians, he couldn’t read them, but signs told more lies that truths in his mind.
Charles took comfort that the Ebola liars were mostly on the other side of Monrovia. The JFK Hospital is uncomfortably close, but still far enough away. West Point had its problems, but the Ebola liars were not one of them.
He was awakened Sunday morning by his friend Thomas. The Ebola liars had come to West Point. A clinic had been opened in West Point itself!
“How can this happen? How can we let them eat our own children,” asked Charles.
He went to visit several friends to discuss this new clinic. Many could die if they don’t act quickly. The small crowd around him swelled to about ten as he discussed fervently how they must stop the clinic. Joseph, an old friend ran up.
“Charles, they have taken Jimmy into the clinic.”
Jimmy, one of Charles’ nephews, had been sick for a few days with Malaria. Now they had brought him into that death trap.
“Come with me friend. Come, let’s stop this madness” cried Charles. The crowd of ten swelling to over one hundred within minutes. Fueled by a smoldering anger at the lies about Ebola, burst into an angry trot.
The clinic was a converted school which was now going to hold patients who had been identified as having Ebola. The plan was for these patients to then go to a hospital when a bed became available.
The shanty gates to the clinic were easily ripped off their posts. The small clinic compound was quickly filled with several hundred people.
“The President says you have Ebola. You don’t have Ebola, you have malaria” Charles yelled, “Get up and get out.”
Many of the patients in the clinic left, including several children. Charles was quite relieved when he saw Jimmy. He had not been sent away to those hospitals to be eaten. Jimmy, clearly weak but able to walk, stood gingerly. Charles walked over and grabbed him under the arm and assisted him out of the compound. Jimmy was safe.
The others did not have such charitable motives. The mass of humanity quickly stripped the clinic bare of all food, mattresses, sheets, and gloves. Charles was indignant with the mob. He was here to save his nephew, not to steal from the clinic. He knew right from wrong and this was wrong.
With his nephew in tow, Charles was in no position to stop the mass looting. Within minutes, it was done. There was nothing left in the clinic except about ten patients who refused to leave and some desperate nurses who wondered what to do next.
Charles took Jimmy back to his small home. Jimmy was feverish and clearly needed Charles’ care. He brought him food and water. Jimmy was shivering despite his fever. Charles laid next to him on the mattress and pulled him close to warm him. As they both fell asleep, Charles took great comfort that those he loved were close.
They were safe.
The characters in this story are all fictional. The events of this story occurred on Saturday, 8/16/14, and are tragically true
The Image Above is an aerial view of West Point provided by Juan Freir and Google. It is used with permission.