Have you ever wondered what you might do in the midst of a disaster? Some people might freeze, panic, or run for their lives.
And then there are those who resist every impulse to flee and instead rush in to help. As news stories are coming out about the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena on Monday night, readers are finding some of that help came from places they weren’t expecting.
Stephen Jones, 35, and Chris Parker, 33, were in the area of the arena where Ariana Grande was holding a concert Monday night. The two men are homeless and were there to sleep and to ask for money.
Parker told reporters he saw a “flash of light” just before the bomb went off. He and Jones chose not to flee the scene and instead went to help the many victims, and Parker even ended up holding one woman as she died.
The suicide bombing killed 22 people and injured 59. Many others are still missing, and the named victims so far include an 8-year-old girl whose teacher described her as “loved by everyone.”
In an interview with ITV, Jones described how he helped hold a woman’s legs up until ambulance workers came so that she didn’t bleed out. “It was just instinct to go and help,” he said.
He described seeing children bleeding and helping to pull nails out of their arms, and he confessed something that many do not realize. “Just because I’m homeless, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart, and I’m not human still,” Jones explained.
The interview with Jones and his selfless acts have touched people. Commenters have also noted the beautiful irony in his position and actions.
“That got this grown man crying,” one man wrote on Facebook. “It’s often those with the least to give that give the most.”
The positive reaction has been so strong that several fundraising pages have been started to help both Jones and Parker. People want to see them get the support they need after they unflinchingly offered aid to others without thinking twice.
Originally the goal was to raise around $400, but donations have poured in and the current contributions stand close to over $2800. Nothing can repay someone for such a selfless act of heroism, but good can beget good.
This horrific experience is not something people will ever get over. But if there is any bit of light to any tragedy, it is in the people who offer their love and care to help fellow human beings — regardless of their own circumstances — and, in this instance, the opportunity to remember our shared humanity with people many often dismiss.
“It had to be done,” Jones said. “If I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that.”
Jones’ and Parker’s actions are reminders of the words of Fred Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”