Elena Pagliarini, 40, was photographed slumped at her desk with a keyboard for a pillow and a mask over her face, as she snatched a five-minute break.

This image, taken by her colleague Francesca Mangiatordi, was after a 10-hour shift.

Just like Hector Pieterson‘s body carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo alongside her sister Antoinette Sithole during the June 16, 1976 Soweto Uprising, and just like Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish decent, who’s body was washed off the Mediterranean Sea during the Syrian refugee crisis, Elana Pagliarini’s image can be seen as symbolic of the hard-work  and the resilience of those at the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

A picture is worth a thousands words.

One picture, taken a critical moment, has the ability to sum up the gravity of the situation.

Sawubona, is a isiZulu word meaning We See You, We Acknowledge You, We Recognise Your Presence.

It is when we see images such as Elena, that we understand better.

Sawubona, when we see… such images, they inspire not to lose hope. They motivate us to fight on, to do our part.

In times of great difficulty and adversity, there are always people who rise to the occasion, and at this moment, thousands and thousands of nurses, doctors, scientists and other emergency workers are hard at work to keep us protected.

It is easy for us not acknowledge them because we don’t get to see what is happening behind the scenes.

It is easy to criticise, point fingers at others, government officials, airport officials. It is easy to take things for granted when we don’t see.

Sawubona, when we truly see others, we appreciate them.

It is when we see the following images:







That we understand better, we stop complaining and are more compassionate.

In times of great difficulty, when things look gloomy, when all looks lost, when giving up seems like the only logical thing to do, there are always those people who will rise up to the occasion, the glow-in-the-dark people.

The Glow-In-The-Dark person is that one who carries the torch and rallies up everyone around her not to give up but forge ahead.

The doctors and nurses working extra hard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are the glows in the dark. Not reflecting energy, but creating it. Not redirecting urgencies but generating them.

The glow in the dark colleague is able to restart momentum, even when everyone else is ready to give up.

When those around you [digitally and physically] are down, lonely and depressed, be that person that shines a little light on them, the light may not be enough to shine the entire room, but at least it is sufficient to keep them hopeful.

Thank you to every public health worker, medical professional and scientist who is on the front lines right now.

We are grateful for a lifetime of sacrifices and commitment.

Sawubona, we see you, we acknowledge you, we recognise you and we appreciate you. 




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