Friday, February 4, 2011

Heights of Agony

Omayra Sanchez, Colombia, Nevado del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz is called a sleeping lion. It is a volcano and there seems to be no precise way to predict its eruption. Yet with limited resources and technologies, the Colombian specialists foresaw an eruption in 1985 to which the government paid little attention if at all.

But the forecast became true with a sudden uproar of the lion and devastated the lives of people nearby. About 23,000 out of 28,700 inhabitants of the town Armero died in the flood caused by lahar and mudflow.

Omayra Sanchez was a 13 year old little ordinary girl who was sleeping when the volcano erupted. While they were running for life, her aunt got trapped in a water aqueduct below, and she tried to save her sibling, thereby caught by the grips of time only to get trapped by lahars, debris, and concrete. Metal bars pierced her hips where gangrene later followed.

She was so badly trapped up to her neck that the rescue workers found it impossible to remove her from the trap without amputating her legs or removing all the debris and water with powerful pumps. They could not do anything – nothing was possible really without surgical equipments or powerful pumps.

Sadly, her pictures and videos were being broadcast all over the world, constant requests were being sent to government. But none could help, or none had time to save one little life.

The Colombian government was indifferent to the constant requests of pumps from the rescue workers. Some said, the country was a developing one and did not have right kind of materials to rescue. People all over the world were watching her clips and conversations with a hope that she is going to survive again. But that did not happen really. You can find some of the clips in YouTube.

She suffered for 60 hours. She was morally high and strong by this time, wishing to get back to her school. She succumbed to gangrene and hypothermia (temperature below survival level) in parts of her body emerged under water and suffocated by debris and concrete. She was hallucinating the last few hours of her life. She knew she was dying, but faced it with courage and dignity.

With her big black eyes, she might mean to live on a dream for a better world. Photo-journalist Frank Fournier took this photo a few hours before her death. It won the World Press Photo award in 1986. It is a symbol of agony where you have wonderful technologies around – sending rockets to moon, wasting billions on war and conquers, making intelligent missiles, lavishing luxurious cars and planes but you cannot save a little innocent life – just watch that die slowly which had a fervent hope that someday somebody will come to rescue her. So it seems we do not have right technology at the right time, or we fail to measure the value of a life. Just some surgical equipments, or powerful pumps were all that was needed. But nothing came, nobody came, only allowing the passage of death to creep in slowly. It is the agony that rises high when you cannot do anything but stare at somebody’s death:

“Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon's riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die” (- Dire Straits)

There are hundreds of Omayras dying on earth each day on various occasions. We only see the news on papers or in broadcast TV shows. Let’s make a mind to do something. Let’s not be stoic only to stare and hear, otherwise someday there might be a metamorphosis of human being leading to birth of a new stoic species – we do not want to be like that. We should be proud to be human beings who care about others’ pains and who can shout and rise high with love and affection – radiating to every corner of the world tearing up the veils of pain and agony. Let's try to stop deaths of Omayras in whatever way we can. There will be the true being inside us…

(Google or Wiki with “Omayra Sanchez” to find more details.)

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