Good Men Project columnist N.C. Harrison discusses the altruistic efforts of Liberian ambulance driver Gordon Kamara, one of the best men he’s ever heard of.
Here at The Good Men Project, we spend a lot of time asking what makes a good man, or what one would have to do to be counted as one. Goodness knows I have spilled a lot of words pondering that exact question and have not arrived at an answer which would be acceptable to even a large minority of the population, let alone the fifty percent plus one required to be elected to public office in the state of Georgia. I have written about bad men trying to be good and failing, good men who think that they’re bad (for whatever reason), strange men, fractured men and the occasional hilarious woman. I have still not come up with an answer which satisfies even me, however, and so the search continues.
I think this week, though, that I might have come closer than I ever have before. The case study in question comes from the Ebola stricken capital of Liberia, Monrovia, by way of New York Times journalist Ben C. Solomon. This is the epicenter of the current, West African outbreak of the disease, so much more devastating and widespread than previous Central African microbreaks over the last thirty-eight years. The total number of affected victims is around 8973, with 4484 people having died of it, and in Liberia alone 4249 have been infected and 2458 have died. When this is compared to the 280 people (out of 318 infected) who died in the original Yambuku outbreak of 1976, the staggering numbers stand out like trees in a desert. More people have died, during this particular outbreak, than they have in all previous microbreaks combined. The widespread nature of the epidemic has turned Monrovia into a blood-soaked nightmare with people dropping dead in the streets and lying there sometimes for hours in the puddles of their final throes, a radiantly hot, distilled slime of the virus which would be almost certainly infectious to any unprepared person who got too close.
And through this seemingly unreal landscape, which could be culled from the pages of post-apocalyptic fiction, Gordon Kamara and his ambulance crew fly from place to place, working desperately against time and the thronging crowds of terrified people to get those afflicted with the awful virus to one of Monrovia’s three treatment centers or, at least, to remove them from the streets so that their highly contagious blood and bodily fluids will no longer be quite so close to so many. Kamara, as the member of one of only fifteen ambulance crews in the entire city of 1.5 million people, lives in constant danger of infection himself and has, indeed, even been attacked by the relatives of those he comes to rescue, their allegations being that he has moved too slowly to save their ailing kin.
And yet he, and his fellow paramedics and ambulance nurses, keep working through the day and night, struggling to keep up with the demand placed on them to help alleviate the effects an illness with mortality rates between 50% and 90%. They must feel like the legionaries that Caligula sent to chop at the lapping ocean waves with their swords, having been told to conquer the sea for the glory of their emperor and the empire.
Kamara is a slender man with a bald head and dark brown skin. He grows frustrated with the seeming ineptitude of those in charge of his nation, and those abroad, who have made this outbreak of the epidemic so much worse than it has had to be. He can be seen, in the video, nearly weeping with frustration over those that he cannot save, or at least comfort in some way. He misses his partner and six children, having lived apart from them for months in an effort to protect them from the virus. He seems utterly unremarkable in each way except for the conspicuous courage and radical love he shows for his fellow humans, rushing into situations which would terrify even the most recklessly bold among us just so that he can aid them in their darkest hours. This is, of course, the world of the paramedic and emergency medical tech in all situations—one thinks, first off, of the recent conflict in Gaza for a prime example—but a disease like this seems even more insidiously dangerous, somehow, than flying bombs and bullets.
So Gordon Kamara, even though we probably won’t ever meet, I want to salute you as one of the best men I have ever heard of. It’s so easy to forget, in the spiritual and emotional malaise caused by things like Internet trolls and gamergate, the heights of greatness to which human beings can be inspired when they are backed into a corner by something truly, impersonally terrifying and awful. Thank you Mr. Kamara—along with the rest of your ambulance crews and all the first responders in your situation—for reminding us what we are capable of and, just maybe, what virtue looks like.
 The video in full can be found here and should be watched by basically everyone to get a full dose of mordant horror.
 This is from the World Health Organization, along with many other useful Ebola facts and figures.