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Empty street in the district of Gemmayze in East Beirut

Coronavirus heroes

As the deadly covid-19 pandemic spreads throughout the world, it is important to realize that there are many unknown heroes who are putting their lives and those of their families at risk while fighting the dangerous virus. More than we realize.

By Haytham Mouzahem
I am not only talking about the doctors, the nurses, and the other healthcare workers like the front-line employees in our hospitals, or our paramedics who transport the infected people every day to the hospital. There are other unknown heroes that deserve credit for what they do.

What about the cleaners who work at night? Cleaning our public places, cleaning the public transport, and cleaning our hospitals and clinics?. The workers who change the bedsheets in the homes for the elderly, the workers who store the medicines or deliver them daily to our pharmacies.

A special thank you should also goes out to our garbage collectors, our household assistants, our nannies, our security men and women, our police officers, our military personnel, our post officers and of course our food delivery workers. Where would we be without them?

We should realize that these people expose themselves every day to the risk of contracting the coronavirus, so we can be safe at home. All the people that risk their health and safety in order to secure our medicine and food for us. They deserve our gratitude and our respect.

There are more true heroes. I am talking about the men and women who lost their daily bread because of the social and economic corona lockdowns. The heroes that worked in the clothing stores or home appliance stores that are now closed or lost their clientele. The heroes that worked in closed factories, craftsmen and small shop owners who are obliged to stay in their homes now. Some of them have difficulties in finding daily bread for themselves and their children. I am talking about the people who do not have large savings at the bank to help them cope with this crisis.

Wealthy Western and Arab countries have taken measures to stimulate the economy during the lockdown with trillions or billions of dollars to assist all of these people. Help the small companies and independent workers to keep their head above the water. This did not happen in my country.

If we collectively forget to help these heroes during this time of need a new wave of social unrest is upon us. The lockdown in some of the poorer Arab countries like Egypt, Palestine, Syria and the country where I live in: Lebanon. Countries where governments barely provide any assistance to business owners, workers, and employees. These are the countries in this region where the crisis is felt the most.

Let us hope and pray that the period of lockdown will be limited. Let us pray and hope that our heroes collectively fight the virus. Let us pray and hope that the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will not become worse than the pandemic itself.

Haytham Mouzahem (PhD) is the Director of Beirut Center for Middle East Studies.

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