Mukpo on ‘Time’ honor: Bitter victory, but deserved one

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Ebola survivor and Rhode Island native, Ashoka Mukpo, said he is moved by Time’s selection of the Ebola fighters as the magazine’s 2014 Persons of the Year. He affectionately referred to the doctors as “brilliant heroes.”

“If you could give them a Nobel Prize too, I’d say give that to them,” Mukpo said in an interview to Eyewitness News on Wednesday.

Those heroes included front-line health care workers, ambulance drivers, researchers and the clinicians who saved Mukpo’s life in Nebraska. They all worked aggressively to contain a virus that has killed and infected thousands in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Earlier in the day, he took to the social media site Twitter to share his reaction.

For Mukpo, Time’s honor brought him joy and sadness.

“Joy that they made the right call and that they’re honoring people who deserve to be honored. And sadness, not just for what they went through, but what the region went through. And for all the people that they treated who were sick and didn’t make it or who survived and face challenges now.”

Mukpo was infected with Ebola while working as a cameraman in West Africa. He said he often watches video footage that he shot of the medical efforts in Liberia, calling it a constant reminder of the pain and nobility there.

When asked what he would say to the person contemplating heading overseas to lend assistance where it’s most needed, he said, ” I would say thank you for even considering it. And if you are willing to make that leap, there are a lot of people out there that are going to admire you for it, and give you support, and fight for you the next time some foolish politician tries to make it harder for you to do your job. We’re in your corner.”

At some point, Mukpo shared he intends to go back to Liberia to thank and reconnect with people he considers family.

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