LONDON - Jonathan Jusayan once dreamt of working in the United Kingdom as a nurse and it almost happened. But fate brought him to Dubai to pursue better opportunities in his profession.
“I had an employer already but I was not quite ready with the exams at that time. I could be one of those UK nurses in the frontlines struggling to save their patients during this pandemic,” Jusayan told ABS-CBN News.
For Jusayan, the deaths of Filipino frontliners in the UK while battling the coronavirus disease, particularly those working in the National Health Service, hit home. As his own way of honoring those who died in the frontlines, he started to sketch them, using photos from news and social media as reference.
“I want people to remember them, their efforts and sacrifices, to give hope to families who lost their loved ones. They may be gone in this world, but never forgotten. And I also saw sketches of doctors but no nurses, that is why I dedicated myself to do it," he said.
After his regular 12-hour shift in the Dubai hospital where he works, using pencil and charcoal, he’d sketch faces of the fallen heroes. It has become his personal tribute to brothers and sisters in the profession. He has been sketching for two weeks non-stop and has finished 21 art works featuring nurses from the NHS who had died.
He also included US nurses in 8 sketches and featured 5 frontliners from the Philippines.
“After surfing the net and social media, I make sure that I have a cup of coffee beside me for a better kick. (My routine is) sleep, work, draw," he explained.
The Filipino community in the UK is hit hard by the coronavirus disease. Reports say over 130 medical workers have died of COVID-19. Some 30 Filipinos have also succumbed to the deadly disease.
Jusayan said his efforts are meant to make people value the contribution of medical frontliners more.
“I just want people to realize the true value of nurses. Specifically, in our home country they have forgotten and neglected us,” he said.
He said he plans to give the sketches to families of the late frontliners in the Philippines after the lockdown. But thanks to the power and reach of social media, some families have already contacted him and he has mailed them his art work.
“I hope this might give them a bit of comfort and for them to know that they are the true heroes," he said.
A decade into serving as a nurse, Jusayan has seen professional growth and while in a different working environment and country, he got an insight into the struggles and challenges that overseas nurses face. He hopes the concern over the short supply of personal protective equipment for frontliners will be addressed by governments around the world.
“I wish that more protection, concern and respect will be given to all the frontliners who risk their lives to face the situation we are all battling right now,” said the Indang, Cavite native.
Meanwhile, he suits up for work daily, and after shift, he sketches more faces- a grim task as more health workers from around the world succumb to the disease.