Bridgetown, Barbados – A 32-year old Registered Nurse tending to COVID-19 patients at a hospital Intensive Care Unit in both Curaçao and St. Maarten, who later contracted the virus himself, is among regional winners in this year’s inaugural Unsung Frontline Heroes initiative.
The programme, designed by CIBC FirstCaribbean through its ComTrust Foundation to unearth the work of persons across the region at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight, has brought to light the stories of many of those whose deeds have gone virtually untold. Over 100 persons were nominated for awards.
The personal journeys of individuals such as Jurgen Lacruz of Curaçao, have also shone the spotlight on the challenges and sacrifices being made by frontline workers every day to battle the pandemic. However, based on the overwhelming feedback of the public and panels of judges in each jurisdiction where the bank operates, the winners have been firmly endorsed as national treasures.
Earlier this year, Jurgen was sent to St. Maarten to assist patients at the St. Maarten Medical Center. Unfortunately, during his assignment there, he contracted COVID-19. When his medical condition worsened, he was flown back home via air ambulance to receive specialized help at the hospital where he works, the Curaçao Medical Center. Thankfully, he has returned to the frontline where he continues to serve his profession with distinction. Jurgen openly shared his experience on social media and since then along with some of his colleagues, has produced many awareness videos on social media to inform people in Curaçao about the dangers of COVID-19.
St. Maarten is also home to Sandra Cheung, whose life’s purpose, as described by those closest to her “is to bring love, compassion and warmth to those in need.” During the pandemic, Sandra established a monthly food program that to date has fed over 2,800 families. House repairs, emergency cash relief, food donations, along with caring for the elderly have also been part of her many unrelenting community efforts. Sandra has been active in the areas of healthcare, education, culture and environmental protection for the past 18 years and still is today.
Over in Antigua, Nurse Soria Dupie-Winston has been dubbed an “Angel” by one of her nominees, for her professional role and work in the community. Soria eclipsed all other entrants as she worked tirelessly and diligently with the team at the V C Bird International Airport adding support to border control whilst continuing her daily community nursing in her district, holding the mantle as President of Antigua Barbuda Nursing Association as well as offering the support at Hawksbill Hotel, the facility used for quarantine.
Despite working every day, Soria is considered a heroine to all, including her daughter whose poignant words found favour with the judging panel in Antigua and the public. “Since this Covid 19 pandemic started, my mom has been working tirelessly to ensure she assists in keeping our country safe. There are times when she gets home at 2:00 am just doing what she can to help everyone keep safe. My mom is a hardworking, dedicated and kind-hearted Mother/Nurse who I think goes above and beyond the call of duty. She doesn’t think twice when someone asks for help… My mother deserves this unsung heroes award because she works 7 days a week. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to get some well- needed rest and relaxation.”
These are just three of the many stories of selflessness that have emerged. Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the FirstCaribbean International Comtrust Foundation, Colette Delaney, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has led, in many ways, to the re-emergence of the spirit of unity and caring that is an endearing feature of Caribbean people. “We are grateful to the contributions of these modern-day heroes, but we know that there are many more who may not have not been singled out but are just as important as they go about working quietly to create the pathways towards health and safety once again for all of us. We remain forever grateful to our first responders for being sources of inspiration and for the good that they do that has made all the difference.”
Presentation ceremonies are currently being conducted throughout the region in strict observance of all protocols for social distancing and public gatherings.
Winners will receive an E-Check for US$2,000 toward a staycation at a local hotel of their choice. A full listing of regional winners will be posted on all of the bank’s social media platforms and corporate website at www.cibcfcib.com