Written by Fudge Santos
Last March, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) was officially made into a COVID-19 center. Since then, their medical staff’s workload has increased dramatically. Health care workers (HCWs) in PGH are assigned weekly duties, with three shifts of medical teams per day. After the end of every week, these HCWs are required to self-isolate for 14 days in quarantine houses so that they won’t infect anyone in case they were exposed to the virus. That means one week of work, and two more weeks of loneliness away from their homes and families.
Also Read: WATCH: Frontliners Share What It’s Like Being a Mom During the COVID-19 Crisis
For the past three months, these people have valiantly chosen to stay in the front lines of this pandemic, selflessly putting our needs first before theirs every single day. Most of the time, to eat nutritious food is no more than a luxury for them especially when they are busy carrying out their day-to-day tasks with extra precaution.
There have been many efforts to provide food for our HCWs in hospitals, but what about those alone in quarantine houses? This is where the Happy Meals Project comes in. This is a food drive spearheaded by ophthalmologist Dr. Joy Santos-Rayos that encouraged donations and ordered meals from local caterers and cooks. It started at the beginning of April with just a few personal donations, and with the humble the goal to give a number of PGH workers food for a week. But soon, sponsors started stepping up and the food drive was able to provide meals for 140 frontliners every day, both in quarantine houses and in hospitals.
Photo from Dr. Joy Santos-Rayos
“I wanted to support our frontliners in my best capacity. I believe that they’re going through so much that a simple meal after their duty is the least I can offer,” Dr. Joy Santos-Rayos said when asked about her initiative to start the campaign. The Happy Meals Project has successfully brought strength and smiles to PGH workers because aside from donations, people have also given them heartfelt messages, drawings, songs, and even videos of them on TikTok thanking them for all the work that they have done for the sick.
This food drive, like a number of private initiatives, has really brought the bayanihan culture back in our lives; inspiring more and more people to help even from the comforts of their homes. These small acts of kindness prove to come a long way for these frontliners as it reminds them that they are not alone and that the Filipino people are also fighting this pandemic with them.
Photo from Dr. Joy Santos-Rayos
Also Read: UP Manila College of Public Health Student Council Donation Drive for Frontliners
The Happy Meals Project last delivered meals on May 24 as Metro Manila neared GCQ (General Community Quarantine). But it is still not too late to donate and help, because this fight against the pandemic is still not over and our frontliners still need all of our support.
For inquiries about this food drive and how you can help donate to the Philippine General Hospital, reach Dr. Joy Santos-Rayos via her Facebook or contact the PGH through their hotline or website.
UP-Philippine General Hospital
COVID-19 Hotline: 155-200