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Samuel Dean Jr. (Facebook Photo)
I received a surprised chat message from a gallant young man on Thanksgiving Day that made me very emotional. Interestingly, he did not know who I was or that we shared a deep bond. On November 28, 2002, little Samuel Dean Jr. leg was severely damaged by bomb shrapnel from a helicopter gunship manned by the Ivorian Army. Like me, he was another victim of a senseless civil war.

I did not know Samuel before the November 28th incident; we were both victims of a brutal circumstance, and it was that event that brought us together. I too was shot on that day. Unlike others, I was blessed to have my twin brother around who rescued me. Luckily for us, he found an abandoned wheelbarrow or “push-push” as it is called in the Ivory Coast and loaded me into it.

Samuel on the beach in Liberia

The first clinic we arrived at was closed, but we could hear wailing coming from inside. My brother knocked on the door, but the occupants refused to open. He kicked it open and on a bed in the corner was little Samuel Dean Jr. along with his aunt. Shrapnel also hit her in her hip, and she appeared disoriented and afraid. Samuel was about 3 or 4-year-old.

Sensing the severity of his injury, my brother immediately asked her to put him beside me in the wheelbarrow. ---And wheeled both of us to the only hospital in town. Upon our arrival at the hospital, we were rushed into a makeshift emergency room where we received first aid. After the treatment, we were placed on two beds lying on the floor of an abandoned ward.

That night, I listened to little Samuel Dean Jr. talked and cried until the morning. His little voice echoed through the room, “UNCLE, YOU SEE I AM STRONG”, “UNCLE, I WILL NOT DIE” “UNCLE I AM STRONG”, “UNCLE, I WILL NOT DIE”, “I AM STRONG UNCLE”… It has been more than a decade, and his little voice still echoes in my ears.

Unfortunately, Samuel was not as lucky as me. He lost his leg when he arrived in Liberia. During our chat on Thursday, he told me, “I am grown now. I do not even think that I am disabled”… “I am dropping off those bad memories.” Samuel Dean Jr. is my hero. He is currently in Liberia.

Story by: Al-Hussein Youjay Fadiga
I can be reached @ hussein.fadiga@gmail.com






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