Showing Gratitude – A much-needed movement to provide ‘lekker’ appreciation to our hardworking healthcare champions in the face of COVID-19

Cape Town, Hospital Heroes is a movement founded by three individuals, who saw the need to recognise and reward the Herculean efforts made by the frontline healthcare and medical staff at hospitals all around the country in the face of COVID-19. 

Hospital Heroes aims to raise funds to be able to buy refreshments to distribute to medical staff at hospitals, initially in the greater Cape metropole, then nationally, in order to lift the spirits of doctors, nurses and support staff as they toil through the long and lonely hours of caring for those compromised by COVID-19. 

To realise their efforts, the trio has partnered with Gift of the Givers to handle donations and logistics in purchasing the goodies and distributing them. 

Khilona Radia, Nisaar Pangarker, and Dr Zameer Brey are behind the movement.  Brey and Radia had each independently conducted separate support initiatives over Christmas and New Year respectively, delivering foodstuffs (treats) when mutual friend, Pangarker, got to hear of their kindness.  Pangarker immediately recognised the potential to unite the two efforts and scale them to make a greater impact, given the dire need.

Khilona Radia, entrepreneur businesswoman and healthcare trailblazer, says of the movement that she and her colleagues have put together: “This is a campaign to share some love and care to our hospital heroes. Our hospitals have become battlegrounds and our frontline staff the fatigued infantry, who despite the enormous risk to themselves, continue selflessly every day, to care for others and do their best for the sick.

“We wanted to show them all that we recognize them and are grateful to them for their skills as well as the sacrifices they have made at the expense of their own families and their sleep.  Hospital Heroes is a way to show them we care for them and I would like to encourage, every person in South Africa to get involved – not matter how small or big.  Together, we can move mountains.”

Medical practitioners, healthcare workers and their support staff face insurmountable odds caring for those with COVID.  Many of their colleagues have lost their own lives in the process.  The cycle of care is relentless.  The exhaustion, sadness and quiet desperation is utterly undefinable.  Yet, their dedication to the Hippocratic oath continues with distinction and character.

COVID round one in 2020 was somewhat at armlength, but this new variant is virulent, highly contagious and completely random in its effects.  This is placing an increasing burden on South Africa’s healthcare infrastructure and personnel as they themselves succumb to the disease and their numbers dwindle. 

Initially, Hospital Heroes will focus its efforts on five district hospitals in and around Cape Town. That said, however, organisers have already been approached by doctors and healthcare workers who have nominated other colleagues in practices around the country – public and private – to be uplifted by the simple appreciation of their efforts.  The spark of pleasure this has provoked is catching on. 

The first delivery took place Friday 22 January, at New Somerset Hospital in Cape Town.  On the ground, was Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations at the Department of Health, Western Cape who, slightly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the staff said: “For us as a Department, this is an amazing effort.  What we see behind us here, these donations, have come about in a matter of hours where the community and businesspeople have just opened their hearts to our staff.   We have thousands of donations that are being brought here today and to other hospitals and we are immensely appreciative of the efforts – our thanks to the people behind this and to Gift of the Givers for assisting with this”.

Whilst donor fatigue for efforts to support those in need is also increasing, Hospital Heroes has chosen a different tack and the results are already speaking for themselves.  It does not demand a certain sum of money or a minimum donation, it just asks that the public and corporations give of what they can spare, in order to provide much needed cheer and upliftment.  This can be R10 or more as all contributes towards the purchase of a cold drink, an energy bar or a delectable surprise, all aimed at putting a smile behind the mask and lighting tired eyes, and which, Gift of the Givers will purchase and distribute.

Gift of the Givers will act as the main conduit for Hospital Heroes.  However, the movement is also encouraging individuals and communities to collaborate to gather items for their local healthcare practices/institutions, which they can deliver directly.

The second delivery of the Hospital Heroes will on Tuesday 26 January at 11H00 at Brackengate Field Hospital, Kuils River. 

Cash contributions can be made to:

Gift of the Givers

Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg

Account number 052137228

Branch Code 057525,

Ref Hospital Heroes.

Please send deposit slip to donations@giftofthegivers.org to receive Section 18A tax deductible certificate.

For donations of bulk items please call the toll-free number 0800786911.

Water, juice, energy bars, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and individually wrapped baked items will be appreciated.

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