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Salute To Malaysia’s Frontliners Who Made Other’s Survival Their Priority

Time flies, and whether we realise it or not, it has been more than a year since the country was hit by Covid-19, effectively affecting and changing the lives of millions of Malaysians nationwide. This pandemic will leave a mark on generations to come and many will have survival stories to tell. 

As of June 2021, Malaysia is facing yet another lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19. The resilience of fellow Malaysians is commendable – one lockdown after another. 

The fear of the unknown is palpable, but courage rose amidst the pandemic. We especially want to thank those who fought courageously, worked round the clock and made other’s survival their priority. 

From the healthcare workers to the food service drivers, these people risk their lives everyday to provide service, and bring aid and help to those in need. We are incredibly grateful for their tireless work during this grueling time.

Heroes In Healthcare

When the word ‘frontliner’ is uttered, most would immediately think of healthcare workers. Since last year, they have been working nonstop to ensure the safety and health of Malaysians. We are all familiar with photos of healthcare workers clad in full PPE suits in hospital wards and ICU rooms attending to sick patients. 

Source: The Star

After a year plus of fighting this non-stop deadly battle, many have reported feeling physically fatigued, exhausted, and even depressed from being overworked and faced with unprecedented life and death cases. 

My aunt told me that her neighbour’s daughter, who is a doctor, had just resigned due to extreme fatigue since last year Covid. She had never taken leaves and was always on ‘standby’ mode. Decided to quit, and immediately took unpaid leave. Covid fatigue is real, especially among doctors. – @IzzahTajari on Twitter[1]

Source: The Star

A recent Majalah 3 documentary on healthcare workers showed the realities of these healthcare ‘soldiers’, battling and fighting hard to not only save their families and loved ones, but others’ lives as well. Many have said that one of the hardest hurdles of being a doctor or a nurse treating Covid-19 patients is that they are the last person to be with the patient before they take their last breath. 

We are regular humans. We cried. We were the last person to hold their hand. It is sad. We do not think of race, religion. When they pass away, we hold their hands. – Nurse at Sungai Buloh Hospital[2]

There is no denying that doctors and nurses are an extension of ourselves when we can’t be there physically for those we love. Even in non-life-threatening situations, patients like Jo Ann Lee experienced the diligence and character of our frontliners firsthand and it left an indelible memory in her recovery journey from Covid-19. After being admitted into the hospital for 13 days, Jo Ann shared her thoughts on Facebook thanking frontliners for caring for her and lifting her spirits. 

For 13 days they [nurses] took care of me, cheerful with every jab and check, apologising each time they had to poke and prod me; got to know me, eventually stopped asking me my name before meds. By day 6, I was discouraged and sweaty and hungry all the time. This nurse comes in the sweltering heat and joyfully says through his PPE “Look what I got you guys!! Snacks!!!” And he cheerfully passed them around like Santa Clause. His joy blessed me more than anything. For the rest of my stay, I remembered his joy and it kept my own spirits up. – Jo Ann Lee on Facebook

Simple snacks given with a great smile lifted Jo Ann’s spirit while she was warded in the hospital and recovering from Covid-19. Source: Jo Ann Lee | Facebook

Heroes In Education

The lockdown has led to school closures nationwide and educators would agree that it takes double the effort and work to conduct classes online. Furthermore, students and teachers have had to deal with connectivity issues or limited digital devices at one point or another. 

However, there are teachers who have gone above and beyond to ensure that no student is left behind. For the Bahasa Malaysia teacher Noor Aniza Che Soh from Kemaman, Terengganu, she spent four hours sending learning materials to her 38 students, many of those without devices and stable Internet connection, even in the pouring rain. The students would be required to complete their subject modules, which she would then return to pick them up at a later time.[3]

Noor Aniza Che Soh from Terengganu will go the extra mile even in unfavourable weather to ensure her students continue with their lessons. Source: The Malay Mail

Meanwhile, Fazri Hassan, a special education teacher, began to develop his own materials to ensure more effective learning. That includes activity books, printable worksheets, and a specialised learning kit that he would deliver to his students. To top it off, he also recorded learning videos and posted them on his YouTube channel[3].

Besides having a personalised education plan, we also teach them life management skills, like toilet training and personal hygiene. – Fazrin Hassan[3]

Fazri Hassan has been tirelessly teaching his students and thinking of creative ways to engage them since the start of MCO in 2020. Source: The Star

Adapting to the new wave of learning is not an easy feat, but these teachers were able to adapt, innovate and stay true to the call to enrich and educate the next generation.

Delivery Heroes 

We are familiar with random strangers ringing our door bells, passing us parcels, food packets, drinks and letters. From Foodpanda riders to Poslaju workers, many of us are dependent on them especially when we are encouraged to stay at home. They brave harsh weather conditions, long hours on the road and put themselves at risk of the virus by being out and about – yet they do it for their survival and the survival of others. 

Source: Asean Post

A story that went viral was of a 22-year-old Foodpanda walker from Kulim, Kedah, named Lin. She was discovered walking in the rain at night by Audri Bella, who then shared the encounter on her Instagram page. The story received many reactions from the public, ranging from sympathy to gratitude for people like Lin – who went out and worked hard every day to deliver stuff to others.

Go to the shop and then to the house is about 2km in distance. She can only make RM4 from an order. Yet, she’s willing to do this just to survive. – @bell.audri on Instagram[4]

Delivery workers being paid a small wage is not unheard of. In fact, many of them have protested against their company for the mistreatment. An example of this is a Facebook post that circulated last year where a delivery man was left speechless after discovering that he was not getting a bonus despite being overworked since the start of the lockdown[5].

In spite of it all, some delivery workers also noted the good moments that occurred when they were working. For instance, Prethip Radakrishnan, a Foodpanda rider, expressed in an interview how, despite the challenges he faced as a rider, there were some unforgettable moments that made his job feel even more rewarding. 

Source: The Rakyat Post

The good moments always outweigh the bad. It doesn’t matter if I am making a delivery when it’s raining cats and dogs or under the scorching heat of the sun. When a customer is courteous enough to show gratitude by saying a simple thank you with a smile, my day is made. – Prethip Radakrishnan, Foodpanda rider[6]

The Forgotten Heroes

Whenever there are discussions about frontliners, there will often be some that are overlooked. These being the cleaners, gardeners, and even security guards. We meet and see them every day, however, a lot of us are unaware of the tremendous and continual contribution they make every day. More often than not, these people are forgotten and left unsupported by the government and the general public. To make matters worse, their workload has increased yet their monthly wages remain stagnant. 

Source: New Straits Times

This, for example, had led several hospital cleaners to go out of their way to demand recognition in order to receive stimulus packages from the government as well as benefits from their employers or companies. In fact, in June 2020, members of the National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services (NUWHSAS) had protested outside Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun (HRPB) in Ipoh as they claimed that the management had tried to intimidate them and break their union off. This was fueled due to some claims that the company was not providing the cleaners with a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE)[7].

Source: The Star

Yes, doctors and nurses are very important. But cleaners are directly involved in cleaning, which is something the government always tells people to do. – Sarasvathy Muthu, executive secretary of NUWHSAS[8]

It is important to always remember that cleaners, security guards, gardeners; they all deserve just as much appreciation as other frontliners, which means they, too, deserve to enjoy the same benefits and support that others receive. 

Untold Stories

Admittedly, there are a sea of stories that we have not mentioned here. You may know of a handful of heroes too. All frontliners deserve our deepest gratitude. Yet, all frontliners deserve our deepest gratitude. If we are able to thank them 

Their resilience and strength is awe-inspiring and liken to heroes, yet in every hero is a human being. They too go through highs and lows and struggle with challenges of coping in a pandemic. Let us not forget that we all need each other.

To all heroic frontliners, words may never be enough to express our gratitude for the work that you have done, but truly, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all for your tireless and sincere service. 

Explore Our Sources:

  1. Rusni Tajari (@IzzahTajari) on Twitter. (May 17, 2021). Link
  2. Oh My Media. (n. d.). Dedah situasi sebenar Covid-19, air mata ‘frontliner’ di Majalah 3 buat ramai hiba. Link
  3. Rajaendram, R. (May 16,  2021). INTERACTIVE: Teachers a class above in difficult times. The Star Online. Link
  4. Yap, W. X. (Jan 29, 2021). M’sians Help foodpanda Walker Who Braved The Rain To Deliver Orders. SAYS. Link
  5. Hakim, A. (May 19, 2020). Why Are Our Abang Pos Laju Not Getting Raya Bonuses?. The Rakyat Post. Link
  6. Press Releases. (May 24, 2021). The Adventures Of Prethip & His Travels As A Foodpanda Rider. The Rakyat Post. Link
  7. Aiman, A. (June 11, 2020). Union wants justice for hospital cleaners. Free Malaysia Today. Link
  8. Aiman, A. (November 19, 2020). Hospital cleaners seek recognition as frontliners. Free Malaysia Today. Link

Written by: Aliesya Sofea

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