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No man is an island

By Charlie Osewalt | 20 November 2013

No man is an island - Stewardship blog by Charles Osewalt

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent…’

On Friday 15 November, Mr. Richard Pulga, 27, died — essentially of a broken leg.  He was alone on an island. He lived in the Philippines.

Just a week before, his piece of the continent was ripped apart by the strongest typhoon in the world this year, and now thought to be the most powerful ever to hit land.

The inhabitants of the Philippines are no strangers to typhoons, in fact this was the 25th tropical storm to hit the islands this year, but this one was like no other and its designation as a ’super typhoon’ only hints at the catastrophic results of its visit. Super Typhoon Haiyan brought heavy torrential rains to 33 provinces in Visayas, Bicol and northern Mindanao. Meteorologists had predicted that it was capable of causing the greatest wind damage from a tropical storm endured by any place on Earth in the past century. Millions indeed fell victim to it.  Mr. Pulga’s story is one of theirs and should be part of ours. His leg was shattered by a coconut which the storm-force winds hurled at him like a cannonball. The father of two small children was taken to a local hospital, Eastern Visayas Regional. He lay there for days. The New York Times reported the details of his treatment from interviews with doctors at the two hospitals, Eastern Visayas Regional and St. Paul’s. Left unattended at Eastern Visayas Regional, his transfer to St. Paul’s for emergency care came too late to save him.

By the time Dr. Rodel Flores, a surgeon with a team of visiting doctors, found Mr. Pulga on Thursday, he had received no antibiotics or antiseptic and his leg was badly infected. The doctor ordered an emergency amputation to try to save his life. But the surgery was too late, and death soon followed. “In short,” Dr. Flores said, “it was preventable.”

Richard Pulga died at St. Paul’s Hospital. His wife, Marycris, was told by a security guard that her husband’s body would have to be buried in a mass grave if she could not remove it. She had no vehicle in which to transport it and sobbed for more than an hour, refusing to make a decision.


Mr Pulga’s story, and that of his surviving wife and family, is one of so many deeply affecting  stories.  Others’ stories will sadly remain unknown to us, but not to God. Each story, known or unknown,  serves to remind us that we are all connected through our faith and through our humanity and we can all stand together in prayer.


Pray for the Philippines; pray for relief efforts and doctors and nurses and people on the ground as they labour in extremely difficult circumstances; pray for the governments and the peoples of our world to understand that all our actions and choices affect others. Pray for Mr. Pulga’s family; for his wife and two children. Pray for those who are in desperate need that they will experience God in the midst of their sufferings.


…Any man's death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.’   John Donne



Read more like this:

Philippines Disaster - how to help

Fundraise for the Philippines - 9 steps to hosting a successful coffee fundraising morning

Steadfast under trials - podcast from The Tron Church

photo used under Creative Commons Licence by Ssoosay

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt


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