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Since the pandemic hit our world, we’ve had some heroes who stepped up to the forefront. They have fought to protect, serve, support and keep us alive; the fight still continues. Things have been tough for all of us, but can you imagine the weight they carry?
An essential worker is anyone who:
- offers the first response in an emergency situation
- is in education, making sure kids continue to progress in their academics
- works in the transport industry
- works in a grocery store and
- offers services that when the world stopped, they kept going to keep us all going
We hear a lot about our essential & front-line workers, and there have been countless posts thanking them, which is truly deserved. I, however, realized from living with one, that I’d never fully heard from them. The daily challenges they face, the positive things that keep them going, and how they would love to be supported.
Here’s what they had to say
My biggest challenge during the pandemic has been fear. I remember a point where there were so many deaths. The community and fellow nurses too. I work in the emergency unit and we saw a rise each day. At one point I was so fearful for my life I didn’t want to test people. But we kept going.
The pandemic has shown me how precious life is.
I’m grateful for mine, my family, how my colleagues and I have become closer, and the love they have all shown.
It’s that love that keeps us going so that’s what I’d say in terms of support, keep showing us love. It makes a difference.
Pako*, Petrol Attendant
We really depend on tips to boost our salaries so you can imagine what happened when people stopped traveling. It hasn’t been easy but I know that this is not the end.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve done well reminding myself of this but it’s always nice to get that reminder from other people. Practical support is also great, for example, helping me to gain more skills like getting a driver’s license.
I can confidently say I’ve grown fearless due to the pandemic. That’s been a personal win that has allowed me to continue helping people with love and respect.
My job requires me to be in close contact with different people daily. You can’t draw blood from a distance but even in that, I’ve seen God’s protection ever since the pandemic hit.
I haven’t taken leave in over a year so support would be anything to help me rest.
For the community, follow the protocols. That helps us. Put on your mask and if you see a relative with an old withered mask, consider buying them a few too.
Thuso*, Taxi Driver
Oh my, curfew hit us so hard when it was introduced. Here’s the thing, transport is about people traveling and when people don’t travel, business is affected. We also realized that people reduced using taxis because they’re afraid they might get COVID-19 there.
We make sure to sanitize and keep masks on. You can always take a taxi special so you’re alone in the car. Support for us would be that, using the service. Otherwise, the real support we need is from higher authorities. It would take us all day to unpack that one.
Karabo*, Shop Assistant
Getting COVID-19 was my biggest challenge. We interact with so many people in the store. Coming in for work every day means you can’t really hide.
But even in that, I’m happy because I still have a job. There aren’t many that have been this fortunate.
It’s tough to talk about support. It depends on who you are, a friend, family, an organisation. It varies honestly.
Leo, Medical Doctor
There was a point I was constantly on edge, which can be quite exhausting. I’d say the really tough moments were when we felt so helpless. Some patients would come in very sick and there was very little we could do. The first time I experienced this, is still very memorable.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in this season. When we had lockdown, that gave me quite a lot of time to introspect. There’s also a greater sense of mortality now which has created an appreciation for life and loved ones.
Personally, the support I’d like is for loved ones to give me room to talk. And pray for me.
The greatest challenge we faced was the huge change in the way that we had been teaching. The school was designed for face-to-face learning and e-learning hadn’t been a priority before. Although I picked up on it quickly, keeping students engaged and motivated online was particularly difficult. Especially the younger ones. What made it even tougher was the lack of support in the beginning in terms of supplies, internet subsidy, vaccines, etc.
Personally, working from home was good for my mental health. I know some people didn’t like it at all but it was good for me. WiFi also got better and we’ve got subsidized internet now.
The biggest support as a teacher would be from parents.
Spend more time with kids after lessons to help them and keep communication high with teachers.
I hope that this article has helped you see more into the lives of our front-line workers and helps you answer the question of how you can be of support to them. The biggest lesson I’ve personally learned from this is, everyone could do with some listening to and encouragement.
If you know a front liner personally; take some time to listen to them, take them out for coffee, encourage them. You can also share these special accounts with as many people as possible to help them support their loved ones.
To all our frontline workers, we are thankful for all that you do and appreciate all the hard work and hours dedicated to serving us and keeping us alive in Botswana. A huge thank you to those that let us in on a few of their stories in this article.
Remember, the end of the SOE is not the end of COVID-19. Let’s continue to keep safe, socially distant, sanitize and wear our masks.
*Not their real name
** This article is proudly sponsored by Wimpy Botswana**
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