Liberia: Two Months in the Hospital after Self-Immolation, Archie Ponpon Craves for Advanced Treatment; Worries over Children’s Future

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Monrovia – Activist Leroy Archie Ponpon, a staff of the Temple of Justice, who set himself ablaze in demand of salary and benefits owed him by the Judiciary Branch of Government last December, has given FrontPageAfrica a rare interview from his sick bed in which he has expressed concern over the wellbeing and future of his children as he is unable to get back to work because of the injuries he sustained from the burns.

Ponpon, after leading several protests on November 2, 2020 set himself ablaze at the ground of the Temple of Justice in reaction to the alleged refusal of the Chief Justice to settle several months of salary arrears of the staff of the Temple of Justice.

In a conversation with FrontPageAfrica at the JFK  Memorial Medical Center, Ponpon said despite he is far from being well, the cost of being on sick bed is leaving him with no option but to vacate the hospital for his residence in West Point, Liberia’s biggest slum.

“My eyes are not too good. My mouth cannot allow teaspoon into it. I am only eating through tube. Cream of wheat, oats with milk and it’s cooked watery,” Ponpon said.

He further stated that for more than two months, he has not gone through any major surgery, adding that only the burn on his face and other parts of his body have been catered to.

“The only thing JFK is doing for me is to dress my face. Why can’t I come every day for the dressing of my face. Personally, it is expensive being in JFK for me. Buying water to drink and other things is very expensive for me,” he said.

“My face is badly burned, however, this coming weekend that is January 31, 2021. l have informed Dr. Jerry Brown of my intention to go to West Point from where I want stay and continue the dressing of my face and wait on the surgeon. He agreed. So, that means I will leave my home in West Point and come to JFK Medical Hospital for the dressing of my face”.

According to Ponpon, Dr. Brown informed him about a surgeon that will be in the country by the end of February 2021 to work on his eyes and mouth.

“The surgery is to give my eye push up to its previous position. Also, my mouth cannot allow teaspoon into it,” Ponpon said.

Ponpon Cries for Advance Treatment

After Ponpon immolated himself and was taken to the hospital, the government of Liberia and other Liberians rushed in to help with the medical bills but all of that do not seem to solve Ponpon health’s problem.

Ponpon says his condition is complex and that there is no plan of him being flown out for advanced treatment. He added that without an advanced medical treatment he will not fully recuperate.

“My entire body did not burn but the fire badly heated my organs, here in Liberia there is no equipment to check it up and so –no word of any advanced treatment from anyone,” Ponpon said.

“Without advanced treatment things will still be bad in the short run for me, however as an activist, I deserve it, even as death it is God’s will. It is a story to tell, but I am not begging for help. My greatest trouble now is how do my children continue their education. We fight for people at the expense of our life, so activists do not cry for help but we tell the pain we feel,” he said.

Two Times Visits by the Chief Justice

Since the incident, there have been several visits by Liberians including Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, the very many man Ponpon was staging the protest against when he immolated himself. 

Ponpon said: “Chief Justice Francis Korkpor visited me two times but we did not discuss.” According to him, he could not talk with the Chief Justice because his situation could not permit him to.

Ponpon said he does not regret his action. He said his message was sent out even if what he has protested for has not changed. According to him, his action maybe strange in Liberia but it’s old in other countries.

“They got our massages. We, activist convey only the massage, we do not solve problem,” Ponpon said.

“History can decide when I leave. Mandela forgot the best part of his life for 27 years. Today, we can be like the boy who started it in North Africa.”

“We try to make Liberia remember in some other ways – civil and peaceful country in the world not me, but Liberia.”

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