The word “volunteer” was not in my vocabulary. I am cautious of it because by extending unpaid efforts, people will take advantage of you. It is true. I had experienced it firsthand when I was younger, and so, I do not just give my time to any cause unless I am sure that it is for the good of many people. And if it is the real deal.
When I was younger, I used to volunteer a lot. For example, I would help out a “friend” who needed to do something important while I cleaned his house. One time, I also did a book report for another friend because she was busy “working.” She was working, alright. That girl I thought who was my friend was working on my boyfriend, who I also happened to clean the house of. Yeah, I know. So you see, I do not volunteer. If you need me to move, pay me for my time, and I will do it. That was my motto.
When all these things with COVID-19 began, again, I heard the word “volunteer.” They wanted us, the nurses, to volunteer our time in helping out people with the virus. It is a death wish, practically, since COVID-19 has no known vaccine, and there was no specific treatment in place to cure it. And now, people are asking us, me, to volunteer and help out.
At first, it got me so angry. How could they ask that of us when we do not know how to cure it? One of our colleagues has already died just after five days of being in the ITU. She was a very healthy woman. Dinah regularly exercised, and she was lean with muscles, a very active person. And now, her body is in ashes because of COVID-19. Dinah, a frontliner, has died because she volunteered. And this is why I will not volunteer. Why would I risk my life for other people?
But then again, I thought like that for maybe twenty seconds, and then, I snapped back to reality. I am a nurse, and part of being a nurse is to assist the doctor who saves lives. If the doctor does not have an assistant, their work will be so much stressful. I am in the medical field because I wanted to make a difference. What am I talking about? I do not have to volunteer – I am already in!
And so, I told my head that I would be working as a frontliner. She almost cried, asking me if I am sure about my decision, and thanking me for the extra pair of hands. The head said that it has been very depressing in there, and yes, it is a life and death matter, more so for the frontliners.
I told her that I have made up my mind and that if I die, I will die. It will be God’s will, I said. As long as I am doing what I think is right, and performing my purpose in this world, then so be it. I will be working the most dangerous and deadliest job in the world – nursing COVID-19 patients.
Our center had to do shifts, and as a volunteer, you will work for 14 days straight and then rest for the next fourteen. The two weeks’ rest is self-quarantine at home, or we could also stay by the center after we have been tested.
My 2-week shift flew by so fast that I did not imagine it was done, just like a snap. The last day was my test, and surely, I was very anxious. Thank God I was COVID-19 negative, and I had the privilege to stay at home for 14 days.
While I was walking towards my apartment, I didn’t know that my neighbors knew I was a frontliner. House upon house that I walked by, they were clapping at me and cheering me on.
“Melinda, our hero!”
“Thank you so much, Mel!”
“We love you!”
I did not know that my work had that impact on them. When I got home, my doorstep was full of gifts and food – more than enough for me to eat in the next four weeks.
Now, I remember. This is the reason why I became a nurse. I had my twenty-second denial, but then, the real “me” came out. I will always volunteer because that is who I am.