COVID-19 Society

Expressing gratitude to COVID-19 warriors with Deepavali cards

At the Therkkuvasal Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) in Madurai, Deepavali eve acquired a different meaning for Medical Officer (MO) Dr I Aishwarya and the five staff nurses.

They reported for duty as they usually did, ever since the coronavirus struck eight months ago. “Leaving behind our families to attend to COVID-19 patients is such a routine now that we have stopped caring about our emotions,” says Dr Aishwarya. But when a school teacher walked in unannounced to hand over customised Deepavali greeting cards and a box of sweets each, they were overwhelmed. “It was the first-ever recognition we got for our 24x7 work during the pandemic; the first appreciation of our efforts,” says Dr Aishwarya.

Staff nurse R Jeya broke down seeing her name written on a handmade greeting card. The messages inside in English and Tamil lit up her small world on the day of festivities when she was away from her loved ones. Written straight from the heart by an anonymous young writer, the card mentioned how everybody was proud of the work she was doing, and that her dedication would not go unnoticed.

Expressing gratitude to COVID-19 warriors with Deepavali cards

Across the 31 UPHCs in the city, several such moments could be witnessed on Friday evening, when teachers of Lakshmi School walked in with Deepavali cards made by the students exclusively for the Government health workers who were silently safeguarding the lives of people and yet stayed forgotten.

Dr S Ravikumar, MO, Aruldosspuram Centre in Thathaneri, says frontline COVID warriors in the Government sector are rarely lauded. “Coming from youngsters whom we do not know, and who do not know us either, makes the appreciation even more endearing for those of us who set out for surveys, bring patients with symptoms to the health centre, face physical and verbal attacks from the community, and yet advise everybody on how to stay safe everyday,” he says.

The team under him has showcased the cards with pride; framing and hanging them on the walls of their homes or workspaces; or carrying them on their daily rounds.

Expressing gratitude to COVID-19 warriors with Deepavali cards

Dr Gigi Rajan, MO at Munichalai UPHC, admits that there were moments when she felt she was risking herself in a thankless job leaving behind her eight-month-old baby at home. “But receiving a card that exclusively thanks me for the extraordinary help and support during trying times encourages me to go on forever,” she says.

The thoughts that count

The earnest appreciation from the school students has renewed hope among 300 nurses and doctors in PHCs, 200 village health nurses and 31 lab technicians. S Srinivas, the school’s Interact Club president, says his fellow schoolmates heartwarmingly agreed to make the cards following an online request. “Embellishing the cards with personal messages, drawings and quilling was their personal choice to express love,” he says.

The project coordinator, English teacher, R Padmaja says the high school students usually distribute clothes and sweets in orphanages and old age homes every Deepavali. In these unusual times, when they were thinking aloud how to spread cheer this year, the School Principal narrated an experience about her COVID-positive relative admitted to a hospital. This prompted the students to honour the over-worked Government health workers who remain unsung.

“From the health commissioner’s office, we collected names and details of all UPHC workers in Madurai to help students lend a personal touch to each card,” says Padmaja. The effort is appreciated warmly: “The surprise cards were sweeter than the sweet boxes,” says Dr Ravikumar.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 2:51:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/lakshmi-school-students-in-madurai-acknowledge-the-contribution-of-healthcare-workers-with-personalised-messages/article33117101.ece

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