The true test of a society is its ability to maintain social empathy. To be our brother’s keeper even if there is nothing to be gained. Nothing tells of the breakdown of society more than our apathy to our fellow man; and my expeience today showed this.
So, this very hot afternoon, I decided to stop by at the bank, get some cash. Everything was going quite smoothly by the time I arrived at the bank, so I went in and headed straight for the counter. The head of operations at my branch happens to be a friend so we got chatting across the counter. Suddenly, people were screaming. I turned to see that a young lady had slumped just at the entrance a few steps after she walked into the banking hall.
Some people rushed towards her and some away from her; Yoruba exclamations where flying left and right, so many people suggesting so many things at once. I was on hand to show all my CPR skills learnt on TV! I walked to the girl and held her hand to check her pulse, asked the crowd to give some space so she could get some air.
Thank God she was still breathing but she was drained of colour and looked very pale. I turned to my friend and asked her to get water. Some bank staff had gathered round and the security men where trying to clear the space. We got some water and poured on her, then she opened her eyes. We helped her sit upright by the wall, my friend got a bottle of Fanta, poured into a glass and helped her as she sipped some.
Then she started passing out again! At that point I was in my full doctor elements. I held her hand and started to give commands. “Stay with me,” I kept saying to the young lady, insisting she kept her eyes open wide and looking into mine. I asked if she could speak, she nodded. I told her to respond gently or just nod in response to my questions. Can you count my fingers, she could.
Can you say your name? She answered “Anu“. Other questions followed. We were able to get basic information about her including her mother’s phone number.
We were able to help a 20 year old student, who had spent all day going round and trying to do registration and here she was at the bank to pay her fees. Apparently, she had collapsed from dehydration and hunger. While I am neither hero nor angel, three sets of persons were revealed to me that left me perplexed and these were the lessons learnt.
We finally had to rush Anu to the hospital. There is a general hospital almost opposite the bank. We had succeeded in calling her mother, so off we went with the young lady to the hospital to see what assistance she could get before her mother arrived Abeokuta from Ibadan.
The First Set of People: The Nurses
See ehn, please pray daily that you or your loved ones are never in a condition where you need to be rushed to a government facility like the general hospital we went today. The nurses did not care in the least what was happening. In fact, my friend was forced to scream at some point, “Do you want this lady to die here?!” One of the nurses said to her “I’m just trying to help you people, it’s not my job to fix the IV, it’s just that we can’t find the doctor!”. Heaven help us!!! I was speechless. The doctor? Hmmmmm, that’s a story for another day.
Finally by the grace of God Anu was admitted, my friend sorted the bills and all other things that were to be paid for. We prayed with Anu and then I thought to call her mum again to explain properly all that had happened and how far we had gone in ensuring she was stable and inform her of her location.
The Second Set of People: Anu’s Mother
Anu’s mother picked up as soon as I dialled. I gave her all the details but I was shocked at her first question. “Did she pay the money she was meant to pay at the bank?” I was amazed! Owo lati bo? Money from where to where? Your daughter almost died this afternoon and all you care is if she was able to pay seventeen thousand naira before dying? I sincerely didn’t have a lot of words for the mother, but I thank God today for the grace to be patient. I explained to her my friend from the bank had the money Anu was meant to pay intact. That was when she asked if Anu could speak, I said yes, I would hold the phone to her ears.
The Third Set of People: Anu the Victim
I don’t know what Anu’s mother was saying on the other end of the line, but Anu’s first response was “I’m sorry ma”. That was when the fighter in me died and the emotional Arit was revived. The meekness with which she spoke, even though I know she didn’t have the strength to do otherwise. I was choking on my tears.
Here is a young girl who had just had a near death experience and now was confronted with the need to respond to an angry mother and she found the strength in that very meek voice to apologise. Apologise? Whatever for? What kind of accusations could you raise at such a time? I removed the phone from Anu’s ears and spoke to the mother, she went on to explain some story of Anu not liking to eat.
What a world!
The need For Social Empathy
You might want to judge some of these people today, but please don’t. Some of them don’t know better. We need to pray that God will help us to see our positions as opportunities to minister the love of Christ to others (for those of them who are Christians).
Pray for parents like Anu’s mother. It’s horrible for children who do not experience sincere love from their parents. I was forced to ask Anu before leaving the hospital today, is she your real mother? And she answered, yes. We as parents no matter what circumstance we find ourselves must be able to show love to our children. It matters to them a lot. I know the economy is bad. I might not understand the circumstance by which the fees were raised, but I believe the life of that young girl is worth so much more.
And the meekness of Anu, even on that hospital bed. The young lady taught me a lesson in meekness that I would cherish forever. It really cost nothing to say I’m sorry.
It’s been truly a day of learning lessons for me, I hope you learnt some lessons too. Please let’s not stop praying for others. Rather than judge and point fingers, let’s cultivate the habit of praying.
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