Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Haley Reading Group: “They Helped Erase Ebola in Liberia. Now Liberia is Erasing Them”


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2016)]

Cynthia A. Campbell

Helene Cooper’s article “They Helped Erase Ebola in Liberia. Now Liberia is Erasing Them” focuses on the fate of young men charged with cremating the bodies of the Ebola dead. Cooper illuminates the disruption of the young men’s lives. Ultimately, the article speaks to the ostracism faced by those tasked to dispose of the most infectious carriers of Ebola.

Cooper’s discussion of the backlash faced by the men in charge of disposing and burning of the diseased bodies was especially enlightening. At one point, Cooper notes that “families shunned them as they pursued their grim work” (21). This point indicates the inflexibility of the mores/beliefs held by Liberians regarding cremation.

After reading Cooper’s article, what was one point concerning the plight of the burners that most moved you? Why was that point or passage moving to you? Please provide a page number citation.

66 comments:

Zaria Whitlock said...

The most moving point of the plight of the 30 men was near the beginning Cooper recalls, "It was the name of a classmate. The two grew up together, had played together as children. Now...he was expected to burn the body of his friend" (Cooper pg. 20). Although this initial statement was nearly one of the first and at this point I did not know much more about the young men than any other person; nonetheless, this statement spoke to me. This young men were not only asked to act against their cultural beliefs but also sacrifice their comfort and relationship with their family members. Despite being shunned and ignored these men also had to burn the bodies of people they knew and once loved or had a relationship with at some point in their lives.

Zaria W.

Jasmine Williams said...

Page 24 states, "the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." These men were asked to do a thank-less job. They had to endure the awful smell and even had to burn the bodies of people they once knew. If this wasn't trauma enough, their families and friends completely disowned them. I can't imagine having to do such an awful job, and then having no one to turn to for support or comfort.

Jasmine Williams

Joshua Jones said...

The second to last paragraph truly got to me because burners the bodies expected to be "hailed as heroes," on page 24. They thought that they were doing the people a reputable service. However, it was a juxtaposition, since the acts that they were asked to commit to created more public shame. This idea is very provocative and struck a few heart cords.


Josh J.

Asher said...

I think this quote from page 22 really spoke to me and showed how much Liberians believe in the importance of proper burials, "A dead body for many Liberians is, in a sense, still a living thing, to be nurtured, looked after, and lovingly sent onward." As an African myself, I too can relate to how the dead are treated in my country of Ghana. We treat the dead with respect and sometimes provide so much celebration and money to make sure to raise up the dead's life and accomplishments, and sometimes people outside of the culture are surprised at how much is put into honoring the dead. Cremation is certainly not common in Ghanaian culture, and I don't think it's something that is normal in most African cultures, so this was a great read.

- Asher Denkyirah

Kenisha Townsend said...

The burners took on a difficult task for the benefit of everyone in the end. They endured nightmares, but still managed to burn bodies, because it was said that it was the only way to get rid of the Ebola disease. Also, they were forced to resort to alcohol and drugs to deal with the terrible images of burning bodies. After all of the effort and pain endured by them, they weren't even nationally recognized for helping to decrease Ebola cases in Liberia (p.22). This really moved me, because they did something to help the nation by reducing the spread of Ebola, and, although recognized by the Health Ministry, they weren't recognized by the president. It's even worse their own people didn't appreciate them, and they were discriminated upon from taking a simple cab ride.

Tatyana Curtis said...

While reading the passage I was moved from the start. On page 20 it states, "...he was expected to burn the body of his friend. He did it." I feel that it would be devastating to find out that your friend has died. Now knowing that you would be the person having to burn the body while knowing your whole country (or village) is against cremation would be a tough pill for me to sallow. Reading this part of the passage made me interested in reading the rest of passage which continued to become intriguing. Seeing how mad the villages were at the 30 men who were just trying to get the dead bodies of the street and get rid of Ebola angered me.

Tatyana Curtis said...

While reading the passage I was moved from the start. On page 20 it states, "...he was expected to burn the body of his friend. He did it." I feel that it would be devastating to find out that your friend has died. Now knowing that you would be the person having to burn the body while knowing your whole country (or village) is against cremation would be a tough pill for me to sallow. Reading this part of the passage made me interested in reading the rest of passage which continued to become intriguing. Seeing how mad the villages were at the 30 men who were just trying to get the dead bodies of the street and get rid of Ebola angered me.

Tatyana Curtis said...

While reading the passage I was moved from the start. On page 20 it states, "...he was expected to burn the body of his friend. He did it." I feel that it would be devastating to find out that your friend has died. Now knowing that you would be the person having to burn the body while knowing your whole country (or village) is against cremation would be a tough pill for me to sallow. Reading this part of the passage made me interested in reading the rest of passage which continued to become intriguing. Seeing how mad the villages were at the 30 men who were just trying to get the dead bodies of the street and get rid of Ebola angered me.

Peyton D. said...

This entire chapter was disheartening and showed the importance of education over religious beliefs. On page 21, Matthew Harmon told how his own mother would not talk to him because he was a burner. He also admitted he and the other burners use drugs and alcohol to deal with the trauma associated with seeing so much death. Even after the government took over, the consequences and stigma of being a burner still remain (pg24). The men are kicked out of their rental homes, can not catch a cab, and are still harassed by citizens that recognize them. It is very sad these people have experienced so much trauma and are rejected by their own community just for protecting them.

Sandra Yokley said...

One point concerning the plight of the burners that most moved me was how a place that had permanently destroyed their reputation had now become the only place they could cling to feel some sort of belonging as they have been banned for their families, home, and society as aw whole. "The place they had hated so much has become a home, of sorts. Nowhere else will except them" (Page 23). It was most moving to me because it demonstrates our innate need to have a home, to belong. We feel it so deeply and crave it so fiercely. These men were forced to ironically create a home in the place that took their first one away. It's at best, paradoxical and at worst, an injustice.

Anonymous said...

In Cooper's article the plight concerning what the burners faced was what moved me. This section was moving to me because the people who were labeled the burners life's had completely changed. Cooper said, "Their nights are spent with alcohol or drugs- habits they said they acquired to get through the mass burnings. One burner, William Togbah, says no night goes by when he does not dream of seared flesh. Several of the men, shunted aside by friends and family, now live together, sharing the same room in a house not far from the crematory site" (21).

-Aleeya B.

Aja J said...

After reading Cooper’s article, one point concerning the plight of the burners that I found most interesting was the fact that the young men who burned the bodies of those who were infected with Ebola are never too from the cremation site, even though they are no longer burning bodies. “They are never far away from it now. The place they hated so much has become a home, of sorts. Nowhere else will accept them,” (23). I found this passage interesting because the it just seems like what they did will forever haunt them, even though they may have thought they were doing the right thing. Even though the men may have been trying to make money for their families, the people of that community shun them for what they did.

Victoria Wright said...

I believe that the most moving part of the plight of the burners was described on page 24, when Cooper said that the men all "were sharing the small room" and "took to drugs and drinking to get through the nights." These men were doing a good for their people, something that took a toll on them as individuals, just to be disowned by the very society they were trying to save. While they were just as worthy of praise as the health professionals, they were treated like they did an injustice to every one. This is sad and heartbreaking.


- Victoria W.

Brandy Collier said...

One point that stuck out to me while reading the article was when it described how the burners coped with their jobs. On page 24 it states, "The men took to drinking and drugs to get through the nights". This stuck out to me because it shows how terrible the job and their experience was to where they had to do drugs and drink to even get through the night. The entire article was sad because of the way that were treated for doing a job that wasn't common but the way they coped with the job and the comments from people was equally as bad as the job.

Kyla Tinsley said...

The one point that moved me the most in this article was that the men did not get anything from burning the Ebola-infected bodies. "Through the ordeal, the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting. (p. 24)" After enduring so much and being exposed to something so terrible, the men are hated, abandoned, and getting drunk to deal with the trauma instead of being praised and thanked for doing something no one else would in order to save lives. It just makes me so sad.

-Kyla T.

JaLeah M . said...

When the text read, “William Togbah says no night goes by when he does not dream of seared flesh” (21). This point was most moving to me because I could never imagine having to be one of the people carrying out this task or even simply witnessing this being done. It is very understandable to see why the men who consented with doing this job were shunned from their community but in a way these men also helped their community. The text read that traditional burials were contributing to the constant spread of the disease and this cremation method seemed to be put in place to counteract that. This reminds me of a friend I met not too long ago who is actually pursuing a career in embalming and working in mortuaries/funeral homes and before her, this was the first time I’d met someone my age that wanted to be in that field for a living. I thought about it and realized that people should in a way, be grateful for individuals who have a will to do things a ton of others wouldn’t dare to do that contribute to societal traditions/cultures.

gabby said...


The passage that most moved me, concerning the plight of the burners, was on page 20. It said, "It was the name of a classmate. The two grew up together, had played together as children. Now only a few days into his job burning the Ebola dead, work that had already estranged Mr. Koffa from his family, he was expected to burn the body of a friend." When I first read this paragraph I was struck with emotion as I tried to picture seeing my classmate, possibly my friend dead, and, knowing that I had to set fire to his/her remains. I also think it is awful how his family chose to ostracize him for the work that he does. Although he was essentially doing good for his people (and family), he essentially was disowned by the people that he was ultimately saving. Very twisted and sad.

Aliyah Johnson said...

"Many Liberians still blame them for burning the dead"(Cooper 22). I find this interesting because they are being blamed for doing a job that no one wanted to do. The PTSD that these men suffered after witnessing the discarded bodies is similar to the trauma prisoners of the Holocaust experienced. Although the men of Liberia were not prisoners, they all had one thing in common, they were seen in a negative light for doing something that needed to be done for sanitary and health reasons. Liberians needed to "erase" bodies ridden with Ebola so the disease would not spread. Holocaust prisoners disposed of those that passed on not only because they were ordered to but because if they did not, the atrocious camp that the prisoners lived in would be even more uninhabitable.

J'kolbe Kelly said...

What Really moved me in this article is the amount of neglect given to the body burners. One of the men gives an account where his own mother is quoted on pg 21 saying, "you burning body? Then i'nt want to see you no more around me." I just believe this is said cause these men were working towards a greater good doing something they hated but get no good recognition.

Jaleelah Muhammad said...

I was most moved on pg 24, when she said that "Through the ordeal, the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be heroes...They are stil waiting". It's astounding how much hatred these men received from their people. Did these people not realize that they were saving their lives?! But then again, these people seemed not to think that death was the final stage of life which could attribute to why they felt the way that they did. It's just crazy how different cultures' values differ.

Kelsey W said...

This chapter was sad for these Liberian men. I feel like people seemed more angry at them then the government officials who actually made the choices. On page 21 someone said "no night goes by when he does not dream of seared flesh." That just makes me shiver. A person does this all day and can't even escape it through sleep. I couldn't imagine burning so many bodies day after day. Especially when everyone was mad at you for it.The social ostracization would have gotten to me.

Jasmin Smoot said...

On page 22, the author mentioned how President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf intended to hold another ceremony to recognize the men who burned the bodies. Although I believe they deserved that recognition, I do not think the men would be praised as heroes to the people of their community. It is not apart of Liberian culture to burn the bodies and I am sure that the people knew why the young men had to do it, but that still was not enough for them to agree with their actions. It is sad knowing that these men will be tormented by themselves and their neighbors for the rest of their lives.

Jasmin Smoot

Mikaela S said...

One point concerning the plight of the burners that most moved me can be found on page 22. At the top of the page, the author states, "Yet the men continue to be tormented by what they saw and did." This point is moving to me because while I'm sure this job was very hard, it was necessary in order to protect surrounding people. The fact that these people we're literally saving lives, but most couldn't understand them is mind blowing and eye opening at the same time.

Jordan R. said...

On page 21, the last few paragraphs depict how the backlash Mr. Koffa received from his family, friends, and community led him to downcast. I'm sure those feelings were heightened by having the notorious job of ridding the streets of the infected bodies. What moved me was that to cope with his depressed state of mind he became a heavy drinker, "He drank all night until he passed out. Fifteen months later, Mr. Koffa is still drinking heavily" (21). It's seems too easy to think if he was able to find solace from his friends and family, would he not have turned to drinking?

Naomi Olsson said...

the part of this chapter that moved me was the opening of the chapter on page 20. "It was the name of a classmate. The two grew up together, had played together as children. now, only a few days into his job burning the Ebola dead...he was expected to burn the body of his friend. he did it.... he did not stop walking util he got home, and once there, he opened first one bottle, then two, of cane juice, the highly potent Liberian equivalent of moonshine. He drank all night, until he passed out. Fifteen months later, Mr. Koffa is still drinking heavily."

this part really touched me because here is a man who is doing his Job that is saving thousands of peoples lives and yet his life is being destroyed by this act. the man's family has abandoned him and he goes home and drinks everyday until he passes out. This shows you how truly traumatized he is. His life has changed drastically from this event. While he is saving the lives of many people, he is losing his own.

Anonymous said...

The most moving part to me was when the young men didn't get the praise or respect they deserved. On page 24, Mr. Roberts says "People still mock at us,". The young men did a job that nobody else was willing to do and instead of being praised or even viewed with indifference, they were ostracized everywhere someone recognized them. It bothers me that people can put someone down who helped them in such a large way.

-Marcus U.

Nia Piggott said...

I felt great sympathy for the Liberian people for what they were going through during this epidemic. The men were in an unfortunate predicament; not only did they have to deal with horrors of burning these bodies but also had to be shunned by their people. A point in the article that moved me was on page 24."For the 30 young mean who carried out the task burning more than 2,000 Ebola dead, The ordeal was over. Except for it wasn't people still mock at us" This stood out to me because it showed all of which these men went through and fact that their situation did not end once the burning of the bodies did. I wish the government had handled this issue better.

Mike Dade said...

I found it sad that these Liberian men were never given the credit they deserved. On page 24, Cooper says "the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over...thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting. (24) These brave workers risked their own reputation and lifestyles to carry out a task that would ruin their honor, but better their community. No one else would do it, but the cremation had to be done to reduce the further transmission of the disease. It's unfortunate that the people of Liberia can't see what good the burners were doing in the grand scheme of things.

-Mike Dade

Mike Dade said...

I found it sad that these Liberian men were never given the credit they deserved. On page 24, Cooper says "the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over...thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting. (24) These brave workers risked their own reputation and lifestyles to carry out a task that would ruin their honor, but better their community. No one else would do it, but the cremation had to be done to reduce the further transmission of the disease. It's unfortunate that the people of Liberia can't see what good the burners were doing in the grand scheme of things.

-Mike Dade

Jeremiah T said...

I was moved by the treatment of the body burners and how the treatment affected them. Page 24 states that "The men took to drinking and drugs to get through the nights." I feel like the people of Liberia should have been more understanding of the situation. The burners were only burning bodies to prevent Ebola from spreading.They should've also thought about the effects that burning the bodies had on the burners. The burners did not volunteer for the job and they would not be doing it if it wasn't necessary. The men's lives were ruined and will never be the same because they tried to keep Liberia safe.

-Jeremiah Terrell

Paris Smith said...

The most powerful quote that I read was on page 21 where it says, "you burning body? Then i'nt want to see you no more around me." It broke my heart that his own mother would disown him and it really hurt me because it reminded me of a time between my own mother and brother and parents are supposed to support their children and be there for them no matter what because they are your children and it just hurt to read it.

Xavier Jefferson said...

I was most moved when the author explained the value Liberian culture places on people that have passed away. Initially, I was unsure why anyone would be upset about burning Ebola infected bodies, but the short story went on to explain how it is frowned upon to do this due to the belief that the deceased can come back to haunt the living(pg 22). This was a interesting because Americans don't really believe that cremation devalues or disrespects the person, so it's not really frowned upon here.

-Xavier Jefferson

Brianna Reed said...

This chapter highlighted how moral convictions and religious beliefs are held strong no matter what, and many times cause tension and hardship for individuals that go against those beliefs, even for good reason. It is disheartening to see that these men have basically been shunned and isolated despite the fact they helped to stop a ravaging disease from causing more destruction in their community.This just goes to show the lack of education about health related issues in under developed countries. The last page of the chapter (24) talks about when Mr. Roberts tried to get into a taxi but was denied service nearly a year since the cremations ended, and this makes me believe that they probably will likely face those types of situations in their community for the rest of their lifetime.

Olivia Slater said...

"It was the name of a classmate. The two grew up together, had played together as children. Now...he was expected to burn the body of his friend" (Cooper, 20).
I know others have used this quote as well, however, I still feel that it is the most moving part of the passage. I had a best friend growing up. We did everything together. Now, she judges me, criticizes me for my life choices, and does not want to talk to me. If we were in this situation, I genuinely am unsure of her response. She now surrounds herself with people that would condemn me and my relationship. I am half black, half white (with a bit of native american thrown in there). My boyfriend is white. This is too controversial for her new friend group. I connect with this passage.

Trevon Bosley said...

The opening of the passage was the most shocking and powerful part to me. On page 20 when the writer says "First he sprayed the body oil to help it catch fire.Then he carefully laid the body along several others upon kindling on the altar of the crematory." This opening painted a very disturbing but real picture in my head. As i continue to live life i think i will always remember the picture this story created for me

Crystal Rice said...

One point concerning the plight of the burners that concerned me was when Cooper explained how they had picked up bad habits and were shunted by their families and friends. She said, "Their nights spent with alcohol or drugs- habits they said they acquired to get through the mass burnings....not far from the crematory site," (21). This concerns me because this shows how scarred they burners were from having to do this that drugs and alcohol was their only way out because of them being disowned by their family, they had no one to talk to and express what they were feeling about having to do this. This can lead to lots of emotional and mental problems.

Crystal R.

Kaelyn Blunt said...

The part the honestly bothered me the most was stated right at the beginning. It was when he said "Now only a few days into his job burning the ebola dead,... he was expected to burn the body of his friend" (Cooper 20). Not only did he get ostracized from his family, but when left with his friends, he was expected to burn them. A job that he didn't want, pushing him away from his loved ones, and then forcing him to burn his friend. That is so mind-boggling to think about. He was there to save lives, but had to burn some to save others. No matter what way I write this, it overwhelms me with sorrow and anger for this man.

Sierra Taylor said...

The passage that stood out to me the most was in the beginning when one of the burners recognized a classmate that he grew up with. The text says,"It was the name of a classmate. The two grew up together, had played together as children. Now, only a few days into his job burning the Ebola dead, work that had already estranged Mr. Koffa from his family, he was expected to burn the body of his friend." I can't imagine how difficult it is to burn bodies you recognize for the sake of the country and not being recognized for your brutal work. The government, their families, and almost all citizens didn't recognize how difficult and mind-altering that experience was. Citizens, including their families, had such strong beliefs about cremation that they didn't acknowledge the situation at hand. I wish they would have looked past their religion and instead looked at the dilemma that the country was in. Even besides that, I wish they had more compassion for the men that went to work and erased people that they knew and cared for.

Jazsmine Towner said...

In my opinion, the most movivng part of the stroy was that these men endured so much psychological trauma for example " One day the trucks delievered 137 bodies. It took two days and a half, it smelled so bad we kept having to go away and then come back" and they did not get the credit they deserved (23). These men faced public scrunity, being disowned from their families, and so much psychologically trauma in the name of the people and they did not get an ounce of appreciation. Instead of being honored by their community and the goverment who they helped they were told that "they missed some people" to be honored for their fight against ebola (22). This moved me the most because no one, not even the goverment who needed them to do the job honored them or tried to help them in any way, they actually continued to hurt them by sending these men more alcohol and drugs to drown their sorrows instead of providing the psychological help these men deseperately needed.

Tiera Williams said...

The ostracism they faced, due to a job they took on amazed me. I think there perspective in comparison to the other Liberians was very different which made them even more appalled by their reactions. To the "burners" they were doing a good deed, that some may deem a quite heroic task. On page 24 the texts states, "Through the ordeal, the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." I think its heartbreaking that the "burners" didn't receive the recognition they thought they would and still remain in these communities where they are ostracized.

Tiera W.

Andre Valentine said...

What really left a mark on me was how the burners were shunned after burning the infected. In my eyes it was the right thing to do in trying to stop Ebola. This just opens up my eyes on how different people all around the world could be, and how some people cherish there traditions so seriously. The quote on page 21 saying "You burning body? Then I'nt want to see you no more around me,". That is really odd to me and many Americans but at the same time similar. We find it out that they are just doing their jobs and being shunned. However here many parents shun there their kids for being gay which is just who they are. This article really just opened my eyes that all humans follow codes that may be broken.

Andre Valentine

Nyla Gantt said...

"The young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." (24) They were traumatized by the things they had to go through. They had to burn bodies of their loved ones. The task that was set before them was unbearable. It makes no sense how they were treated, and the way they were forced to treat people.

- Nyla G.

Bman L said...

On page 24, the text says "The men took to drinking and drugs to get through the nights." These workers are just trying to work, and get the job done. Sadly, the villagers do not see the bigger picture in these cremations and punishes the workers for it. These workers' lives will never be the same again. My question is, what has the government done to help these workers, besides provide cane juice? Will there be any further rewards, or will they leave these workers to live miserable lives?

Brandon N

Donovan Washington said...

Helene Copper states on page 24, "Through the ordeal, the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that the people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." These workers did this job in hopes of getting something in return. This point made me realize that people can look down on you no matter what you do. Even if you are trying to help them like these men were. The people shunning them made their job even harder than it needed to be.

-Donovan Washington

Marcus Barnes said...

I think one thing in this passage that moved me was terrible it was for the “burners” to do their job because it was so hard to see so many people dead all around them everyday. It left them each mentally and physically messed up. “The men took to drinking and drugs to get through the night.” (24) I couldn’t imagine having to do what they had to do over and over again.

- Marcus B.

Kathryn Hatches said...

On page 20, the author wrote, "he was expected to cremate the body of his friend. He did it." I couldn't imagine the horror of having to do this at all, let alone do the work no one else desires to do. The worst part is the fact that these workers had to cremate the bodies to prevent the spread of Ebola, even though it was against the society's cultural and spiritual beliefs.
-Kathryn Hatches

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a shame that after all the burners go through, they don't seem to end up with anything in the end. I'm under the impression that the never got the "government scholarship" (page 24) and people still clearly shun them. It only continues to make their experience worse.

Que'rra Mason

Kytela Medearis said...

What moved me was a quote from page 24. It says, "Through the ordeal, the young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." It is just hard to know, that these men were doing this in order to aid and help their friends and families by disposing of the bodies. A job that nobody else was will to do. They thought people were going to be thankful but instead they were looked down upon. They were treated like scum. As it is they had to do a horrifying job,a job that they themselves barely mustered the courage to do so and to be treated so poorly afterwards? Absolutely disheartening.

Fiona Hill said...

"The young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." (24)
The part that moved me the most was the people doing these jobs never received thanks for doing a needed job. What bothered me the most about this is these people may have had the same morals as the people who shunned them- they are all from the same place so they most likely were also against cremation but somebody had to do it. The bodies infected with ebola were contagious and could have passed along the virus if someone came in contact with them: not only were those cremating the bodies putting themselves at risk, but they were also helping stop the virus from spreading but they received no thanks and no appreciation.

A. Robinson said...

What was so moving to me was that these burner's were so ostracized by society that they were driven to drugs and alcohol. What makes it worse in my opinion is that is was the isolation coming from their families that drove them to be this way. A passage that stuck out to me was this one, "Several of the men, shunted aside by friends and family, now live together, sharing the same room in a house not far from the crematory site." It is just hard to imagine 4 or 5 depressed, drug addicted men sleeping and living in the same room.

Dakarai P. said...

The most moving part for me was on Page 21, when Matthew Harmon, one of the burners, talks about how his mother disowned him after she found out he was burning the bodies of dead Ebola victims. These men helped end the Ebola crisis in Liberia, they just be seen as heroes, instead they have been shunned by the community and even their own families. They did such important work that no one else wanted to do and they didn't even get to be part of the recognition ceremony.

Breanna Blackwell said...

I found page 20's acoount of him recognizing a friend's name and then having to burn his body. I am sure one distance himself from the faces he throws to the fire due to them being the faces of strangers. However, when you look to see an old friend staring back at you, there is no distance. I'm sad for his experience, and I am even more sad for the lack of appreciation and support provided to the burners.

Maya Searcy said...

On page 24 when it says "they thought they would be hailed as heros, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." This part really stuck with me because they thought what they were doing was good and that they were helping people and would be thanked for it. However they were shunned, even though they put themselves at risk to help everyone.

Bryce Barker said...

On page 22 when it says "while they received certificates of appreciation from the Health Ministry, they were not part of the recognition ceremony held by the president to thank health-care workers for their efforts during the outbreak, an omission the young men took to heart." This part moved me because they did a job that everyone saw as taboo and they were shunned because of it. Since they weren't mentioned in the ceremony I can completely understand feeling hurt because I would feel I went against something I believed and know not only am I being exiled but I also feel like I did all of it for nothing.

Anonymous said...

When the story started talking about the reason for the burning of the bodies at the bottom of page 22 and the beginning of page 23. Although I understand the reasoning behind the burning, it still seems gruesome. They began the burning in everyday clothes, then were given protective gear from the smell and fire.

Sydney J.

Anonymous said...

One very moving part from this story was on page 20 where it says "The two grew up together, had played together as children.... he was expected to burn the body of a friend." This part was particularly moving because even though it is necessary to help save the lives of others by burning the bodies of the dead; to have to burn the body of someone that you knew personally would be very traumatizing as it was for him in that he turned to drinking after experiencing that. I could never imagine having to burn someone's body that I know and walk away from such an experience without being affected.

~Tashawna N.

Anonymous said...

On page 20 it says "He was expected to burn the body of his friend. He did it." No one should ever have to go through the experience of witness one of their friends die in such a disheartening way. They have all been through so much that contributed to their own depression, I am sure this did not help. The burners did not get any support either which was also disheartening.

-Sydney Oats

Natasha said...

Page 24 states the men "turned to drinking and drugs to get through the nights." This sentence was very meaningful to me because so many times in history and even in today's society, people turn to these false senses of happiness just to get by. It's devastating. Most times, people know what they're doing is a poor choice, but they feel stranded and like they have no other option. I felt a lot of empathy for the men here because I don't think I could do the task they had to. How do you look at someone from your community who perhaps you were friends with at some point...and then end up having to dispose of their bodies. And more, you do not have the support from other civilians in what you're doing. Everyone knows it is not a glamorous job, but they could have at least been respectful.

Deborrah B. said...

The part that moved me the most was how the men hired for burning the bodies were treated. (p. 24) They were asked to do a horrible job and thought that they were going to be compensated for it. Instead they were abandoned by their family and friends shunned by their society. I can't imagine having to do such a terrible job and then being condemned for it.

Deborrah B.

Robert Craig Jr said...

Reading about the unsung heroes of Liberia was heartbreaking. These men went through the hell of burning the bodies of people as close to them as family, believing "they would get government scholarships when it was all over. They thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." These men deserve more recognition across Liberia, as their actions and sacrifice are nothing short of heroism.

Anonymous said...

On page 22 they talk about how these men were being honored a little bit but not even the President showed them enough love and support after they had to do these horrible tasks, all to save the people around them. Even though they hold a Decoration Day when they clean grave sites, it should still be honorable to those men that they helped stop a killer of thousands within their own country.


-De'Abrion Joyner

Jazmyn Maggitt said...

The passage that says, " Mr. Robert's landlord put him out of his rented room, and he moved in with Mr. Harmon, the burner whose mother had shunned him. Soon other young men, turned out of their homes, were sharing the small room, too" (24). I understand that cremation isn't something that the Liberians did but they act these men took joy in their jobs. No one wanted to do it but it was something that needed to be in done in order to keep the rest of their people safe and these men stepped on and took on that burden. Its just sad to see that their families stopped talking to them because of it when the reality of the situation is that they needed their family more than ever then. They had to constantly see all the death caused by this virus and help clean it up and everyone they loved kicked them to the curb.

cassidy oliver said...

The government's action, or lack thereof is one of the most saddening parts to me. The men were sacrificed as part of a government response to Ebola. Instead of being hailed as heroes, they were given more cane juice, which can further lead down a path of destruction (Cooper 24). Its sad to see the government's compliance in the alcohol abuse and lack of attention paid to the lives of the burners.

John Kriha said...

The point concerning the plight of the burners that moved me the most was the Health Ministry leaving them out of the ceremony. "Many Liberians still blame us for the burning of the dead...they were not part of the recognition ceremony held by the president to thank health care workers for their efforts during the outbreak..". Since cremation was so unpopular with Liberian culture, having the president give the burners their proper recognition would have shown the communities that burning the infected bodies was necessary.

Anonymous said...

This chapter was very interesting and I wish that the story was a bit longer for me to read. I thought it very ironic how these men are doing the necessary work to stop the spread of Ebola and by doing this, they are being ostracized at the same time. It's sad that they have to deal with alcohol and drugs to cope with the pain (pg 24) and I can't even imagine what their mental states are like. Now that i think of it, they probably have some form of PTSD and are using drugs to numb their pain. It saddens me that others don't see them as brave but they see them as bad people who made things worse.

- Carlie Bibbs

Kellsey Hediger said...

The follow statement is located on page 24: "The young men said they thought they would get government scholarships when it was all over, thought they would be hailed as heroes, that people would apologize for shunning them. They are still waiting." It is as if these individuals are being punished for performing an action intended to benefit others. It is entirely unfair.