May 13, 2020 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil |
While all public and private schools remain closed in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, students from the Adventist schools are attending online classes during social isolation. In addition to the basic academic subjects, educators also work to help the students understand the importance of health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Duque de Caxias, classes remain suspended until May 13, according to the local city hall. However, the Duque de Caxias Adventist College promoted an activity for its elementary school students to write letters to health professionals in the city’s municipal hospital network. The project was named “Drops of Gratitude.”
The Adventist college’s elementary school counselor, Verônica Lopes, encouraged all students to participate, with the help of the faculty and through meetings with parents and students by video conference.
“I consider gratitude to be a crucial factor in a child’s development,” Lopes stressed. “The letter-writing idea emerged as a way to awaken in our students a spirit of recognition and gratitude for the professionals who have dedicated their lives to save others. They are true heroes.”
To avoid any type of exposure to the hospital environment, the letters were sent by email on May 6 to Dr. Patricia Neves Gomes, who printed and organized delivery to the eight units that are part of the Municipal Hospital.
Dr. Moacyr Rodrigues do Carmo said, “The students’ gratitude is the most sincere feedback we can receive! Many of us are saving our children by not coming home. We can feel through their letters the affection of the children and this is very meaningful to us, especially right now.”
The action was featured on Rede Globo’s RJTV Primeira Edition.
It’s not just the general population experiencing the emotional effects of the pandemic; it is also a reality among health professionals across Brazil. In fact, the reality inside hospitals is worrying.
“The truth is that we are all exhausted: Take off your apron, put on your apron, change your mask. It is a hard and difficult routine,” explained Dr. Gabriela Almeida Pimentel, a neurologist at Hospital Sírio-Libanês and Hospital Samaritano, in São Paulo. This is in addition to the loss of more intimate contact, such as the handshake or the hug. “We already have a very high incidence of depression among health professionals,” she added, “and we do sometimes hear of or know people who comment suicide.”
The Hospital thanks you!
In this kind of an environment, encouraging words are extremely meaningful. “We were very touched by the initiative of the Duque de Caxias Adventist College, which presented our wonderful health professionals with this beautiful surprise,” emphasized Dr. José Carlos de Oliveira, municipal secretary of health and civil defense of Duque de Caxias. “In these times of social isolation, I very much appreciate the effort of everyone–teachers and students–to send us letters valuing our work. In this moment when many of us are not able to live with or see our own children and grandchildren, as many of us choose not to go home in effort to protect them, this sincere affection of the children feeds our hearts. On behalf of all health professionals in the municipality of Duque de Caxias, I say a heartfelt thank you!”
Report of who participated and encouraged the action
João Gabriel de Lima da Cruz is 10 years old and is a 5th-year student. According to his mother, Vanessa Cristina de Lima, he has always been a good-hearted child and enjoys creating love letters for everyone at home.
“When I heard about the project, I immediately wanted to participate, as it would be a way to send a message from the heart to the doctors who leave their families to take care of ours,” said de Lima.
Izadora Alves Monteiro went beyond the letter: He recorded a video sharing her affection for the health professionals.
“Thank you very much to the doctors, as they are taking care of everyone,” Monteiro said in her video. Holding up a piece of artwork, she added, “Look at the drawing I made for you, it’s here!” Monteiro is in Pre II and is only 5 years old.
Alex Dias Cerqueira, director of the school, says the College’s initiative was embraced by parents and teachers.
“These letters are also a way for the school to say that health professionals are not alone,” Cerqueira reflects. “In spite of physical and mental exhaustion, professionals are taking risks, giving their best to offer others a better quality of life and the fastest possible recovery. Therefore, this project is in fact a drop in this ocean, but we are sure that it will make all the difference for these professionals, as there are many people out there cheering for them.”