Healthcare & Frontline workers: Every Nations Unsung Heroes

You have given the Nation the Gift of Encouragement and Hope in a difficult time. Vinaka Vakalevu

Educators from Fiji and the Pacific have always shown a phenomenal contribution in learning, teaching, innovation and research that has led to not just developing the human capital of Fiji/Pacific, but they have been empathetic and shown commitment towards the community, during the pandemic to come forward to appreciate Fiji’s healthcare and frontline workers by presenting a ‘basket of goodies. 

The number of COVID-19 cases in Fiji is surging at a brisk pace, so is the rising responsibility on Fiji’s frontline workers and healthcare heroes who have sacrificed the comfort of their homes and taken an unimaginable risk to serve the ones in need.

These unsung heroes are the national pride for Fiji, and the initiative tagline is…

“You have given our Nation the Gift of Encouragement and Hope in a difficult time. Vinaka Vakalevu”. 

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The torchbearer of this humanitarian initiative is the dynamic and intellectual leader Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, Dean of College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University [FNU] joined by a large number of educators in and around the Pacific.

This initiative is one of the deep commitment to achieving Fiji’s National Development Plan and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) values that aimed at developing sustainability, building resilience and helping communities, showing accountability, caring, values of service, respect and compassion, development, honesty and selflessness and nurturing the spirit of volunteerism.

This also reflects the Educators’ commitment towards Corporate Social responsibility and supporting national economic and social development.  These values are aligned with national priorities that have global relevance.  

Supplied: Prof. Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, Dean of College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University

‘Basket of Goods’ initiative is also supported by players of Fiji’s rugby 7 Olympic Gold Medalist winners who showed appreciation towards the healthcare workers and front liners, their families for their service to the nation in these hard times.

Many healthcare workers of other nations including Australia have reported increased levels of stress and anxiety, where researches have shown ‘majority of them are also concern about contracting the virus themselves and passing it on to others and urged to be considerate by doing the right things, appreciate the stress they’re under, stay connected to show affirm social bond, encourage them to seek support.

Australians have shown respect to their healthcare and frontline workers and by various campaigns like #BuyThemACoffee, helping doctors without babysitters, writing letters for the front, adopt a health care worker, and feeding the frontline.

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In India, many Indian healthcare and frontline workers have also gone through emotional and mental strain when they serve the fearful public, and many have even sacrificed their lives while performing their professional duties.

The researchers have recommended that ‘The provision of psychological and financial support for health workers and their families is absolutely critical in building trust and dedicated work efforts by the health workforce for a continuous fight against the deadly disease” (Behera et al., 2020).

A letter to editor Violence among healthcare workers during COVIC-19 pandemic in India, where they have been attacked and criticised, probably due to the ‘panic and mistrust on the government steps in combating COVID-19” (Kengadaran et al., 2021).

Despite these incidences, many organisations and government have shown their insurmountable support to their health and frontline warriors. This anxiety among healthcare and frontline workers became intense where coronavirus pandemic cases are rising at an alarming rate.

Thus, this Oped displays a sense of gratitude towards Fiji’s healthcare and frontline workers and saluting all those who have been working tirelessly in this initiative for community service.

Basket of Goods by Fiji/Pacific Educators

Recognizing and Appreciating: Golden Hearts

The inspiring quote of Martin Luther King Jr. stated,

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy”

It implies most appropriately to all healthcare and frontline workers who have shown dedication in these testing times.

The health workers working in hospitals, clinics, health centres, quarantine centres, swapping teams, vaccination workers and their supporting staff; similarly, the armed forces constituting of Fiji Police Forces, Fiji Military Forces, Civil servants and other administrative workers to enforce law and curfew restriction have shown their sincere committed towards service of a nation.

Their commitment, passion and dedication deserve appreciation from the ones who they are serving. Therefore, recognition of Fiji’s healthcare and frontline workers efforts in battling against COVID-19 through gifts, flowers and goodies is the objective behind ‘Fiji/Pacific Educators Recognise & Appreciate Healthcare & Frontline workers’.

This is a College of Humanities and Education led event widely organised by FNU workers with our front liners. This initiative is to support the frontline workers, especially the nurses, doctors and members of the defence/police forces and others who are serving in hospitals, health centres, quarantine and containment centres, vaccination and checkpoints during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this volunteer initiative, the educators from the Ministry of Education, Fiji National University, University of South Pacific, University of Fiji, Fulton College, Pacific Theological College, Fiji Teachers Union and Fiji Teachers Association, other educational union leaders, business houses, school teachers, retired teachers, voluntary donators, youth groups, NGOs, a few companies and friends, and fellow educators at all levels in the Pasifika, have united to provide their appreciation by a ‘basket of goodies.

That included providing refreshments, bouquets, hand sanitisers, cartons of water, face masks, grocery packs and other essential items, that were delivered by adhering to COVID-19 procedures and restrictions.

Melody Beattie said, ‘Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow’. Thus, showing appreciation by Pacifica educators to all frontline workers and families is a basic act of appreciation to their sacrifice of being away from their family and comfort to contain the epidemic and perform national service.

These workers put their life at risk and that of their loved ones to help to take care of their fellow citizens. It is due to their sacrifice and tirelessly working, the community at large can feel safe and secured.  

They put themselves in the way of the deadly virus and provide care to a number of them who are infected, thus making a difference in the lives of many others.  Their devotion, courage and commitment deserve admiration. An entire society cannot repay the efforts shown by these unsung heroes for their fellow citizens.

Fiji/Pacific Educators: Vibrant Committee Teams

This noble initiative by Fiji/Pacific Educators set up a role model reflecting active, positive and progressive commitment towards the society in uncertain times. It shall set up an example for current and future challenges to stand together to support their healthcare and frontline workers.

Thus a humanitarian effort is even supported and appreciated by Hon. Rosy Sofia Akbar, Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts, Fiji. This small appreciation gesture and support are led by different leadership committees across Fiji, as in the Central division. These teams made rational decisions on the logistics for funding, procurement and distribution, and shown a most incredible sense of sustained commitment that has eased the pressure and enhance the morale of these unsung heroes.

Vinaka Vakalevu/Thank you

Australia, India, New Zealand, United States and other nations have shown their support to provide vaccination to Fiji and many Pacific countries who are suffering from an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. They deserve a huge appreciation, but equally, the acknowledgement should be given to men/women working at ground level to deliver and administer the vaccinations to people.

Due to the commitment of the frontline and health professionals, the families of others can remain healthy, safe and protected during these trying times. Their duty of care need to be appreciated, so I take this opportunity on behalf of all those educators and sponsors to show my deepest appreciation to their commitment and salute all Healthcare & Frontline worker’s contributions towards Fiji and humanity.

I fall short of words to show my gratitude towards their endless commitment, so I would like to say one word in a nutshell,  A Big Vinaka Vaka Levu/Dhanawad/Thankyou/Shukriya/Merci Beaucoup!

Author: Dr Sakul Kundra, A.HOD Department of Social Science, College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are his own and not of The Australia Today or his employer. For comments or suggestions, email. dr.sakulkundra@gmail.com

Educators supporting the initiative: Prof. Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, Dr. Rosiana Lagi, Ms. Sereima Takiveikata, Mrs. Vidya Singh, Mr. Jerry Wong, Ms. Adi Kelera Bokini Naborisi, Mr. Matereti Sarasau, Mr. Agni Deo, Mr. Paula Manumanuitoga, Mr Mosese Natuilagilagi, Dr. Shikha Raturi, Mr. Maciu Cakaubalavu, Ms. Laisa Tifere, Dr. Joseph Veramu), Nausori (Master Viliame Mulo), Tavua/Rakiraki (Dr. Rohit Kishore), Nadi (Mrs. Rina Kumar, Dr. Sunil Kumar and Mr. Eric Jioje), Labasa (Dr. Samu Bogitini, Mrs Fereal Ibrahim, Mr. Pradeep Lal), Navua (Mrs. Sharmila Lakshman, Dr. Mosmi Bhim, Ms. Makereta Mua), Lautoka (Shabreen Khondoker [Champs International School], Mr. Perry Gabriel, Mrs Finau Voi, Dr. Kamal Naiker, Mrs Lia Bogitini, Dr. Taravini Raiula, Mrs Sangeeta Jattan, Dr. Premila Devi (USP), Prof. Tupeni L Baba (University of Fiji), Mr Aminisitai Koroi, Mr. Ravinesh Prasad) and Ba (Mr. Feroz Ali, Ms. Sofia Ali, Dr. Mumtaz Alam and Dr. Afsar Alam, Dr. Tanveer Naqvi, Mr. Salim Humayoon) and all others.