Good Samaritans…Almost…

I wrote this story several months ago, and thought it had posted, but for some reason it found it’s way into the “draft” box instead. This happened last November, but it’s still a good story, a good reminder, and maybe there’s a reason it was hidden until now. Anyways, this is a bit of what we see from time to time here in Davao.

We experienced another roadside medical emergency a few weeks ago, the second since we’ve been here. The first was several months ago, a man lying on the side of the road was unresponsive, and bleeding from the head and mouth. There was a huge crowd surrounding him, family members crying for help, and people driving by, slowing down to see what was happening. We pulled over, and Dan was able to use his first response medical training to keep him comfortable until medical help arrived. Today’s situation was quite a bit different.

We were out running our usual errands, running behind, and frustrated with the amount of traffic at one of the larger intersections in town. As we approached the traffic light, cars began swerving around an object in the road. The object turned out to be a man having an epileptic seizure in the street. The tattered clothing, and scattered handful of coins lying next to him indicated that he was a beggar. All Dan could manage to say was, “ohhhh, crap”, as he pulled a u-turn and parked across the street. He told me to call 911, and rushed over to the man, who was still convulsing. Once it was confirmed that medical response was enroute, I joined Dan. Two young ladies stopped to see if they could help. The seizure was over at this point, but he was unable to get up or respond. We let him lie in the road, and directed traffic around him. While we waited for help to arrive, we experienced the polar opposites of compassion. Traffic honked at us, and drivers yelled at us to move him out of the road so they could use the lane. Two little boys, about 8 years old, slowly approached the man, eyeing his spilled coins, trying to figure out how to grab them. One of the girls gathered them all in a pile and put her foot over them to protect them. Then one of the boys turned to me and put his hand out, begging. I was instantly saddened and angered at how unaffected they were by the situation, at such a young age. All I could do was yell at them. “Are you kidding me?!” (in English) is all I could blurt out, but no translation was needed. They backed off, just as help arrived.

We let the medical professionals take over, and we left. Once we were driving, Dan began to share what I hadn’t witnessed, while on the phone to 911. A dozen or more people yelled things to him, and the girls translated. They all contained the same sentiment though, this man was worthless to them. “This happens all the time” yelled one, “He’s mentally ill, just leave him” said another. In the moddle of all this, another man walked up, trying to sell Dan pearls. One jeepney driver even said “His parents live just there”, and pointed across the street. Dan asked if he could pull over and go get them, and he sped away saying “ohhh…no, no, no!” Dan said he noticed several scars on his head, and his skull was slightly misshapen, indicating that he has suffered a fracture in the past. So yes, it indeed happens “all the time”.

Growing up, how many times did we hear the story of the Good Samaritan? I can think of several, and in my mind, it was always a pretty cut and dry story. A guy is one the side of the road, people walk by, then the Samaritan stops, cleans him up, and everyone lives happily ever after. After this experience, I realized how much more to the story there must have been. We are outsiders here, nothing will change that. Besides the angelic girls that stopped, why didn’t those passing by take care of this man? As we stood there, we felt uncomfortable, exposed, and unfortunately, angry. And, we aren’t even “hated” here, unlike the Samaritan. I feel so much more respect for the story after this experience, just from feeling an ounce of what the Samaritan much have felt. While the bypassers viewed the injured man as worthless trash, the Samaritan saw him as a fellow human being, a child of God. No matter our societal status, God views us all the same.

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