It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out across the world. Though unprecedented, the fight against the virus is starting to shift with massive vaccination drives now taking place and lockdown measures being eased. As medical professionals who have been serving on the frontline look back at the early days of the outbreak, they are starting to realize just how much the overall experience has changed their lives.
Among these medical frontliners in the Philippines are Alenah, Cecilia, and Iris Mint, who happen to be online English teachers of popular teaching platform 51Talk. Coming from different fields of medical expertise, their experiences of being on the frontline vary, yet their stories are linked by the lessons they have learned. They also have the common ground of experiencing how teaching online helped them cope with the hardships that the pandemic brought.
For Bohol-based pharmacist Alenah, who works as an assistant training supervisor at a local pharmacy, she and her colleagues were required to go to work when the lockdown was first imposed.
Even though going to work increased her risk of contracting the virus, Alenah was more than willing to jump in and help as many people as she could.
“I wasn’t scared, nor anxious. I was eager to be of service because I know it’s our responsibility to help during a medical crisis,” she explained.
Iris Mint can relate to Alenah’s dedication. The 28-year-old medical technologist from Cebu City has been practicing her profession for five years now, and her experience made her appreciate her line of work, helping doctors diagnose patients through laboratory work.
And just like Alenah, Iris Mint also had to go to work at the height of the pandemic. Because she and her colleagues handle bodily fluids, they had to be more careful in their day-to-day operations at work.
“A lot has changed during the pandemic. We had to limit our interaction with our patients, which we managed to do by changing our way of extracting samples from them,” she said. She recalled always making sure their PPEs were always in place, then bathing rigorously after their shifts.
Though Alenah and Iris Mint were prepared to tackle the responsibilities that lay ahead, they still encountered circumstances beyond their control. With locals unsure how to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19, they turned to the nearest accessible medical resource for advice—pharmacies. On a daily basis, Alenah entertained query after query from patients on how they can boost their immune system. On top of that, locals also flocked to pharmacies to stock up on necessities such as vitamin C supplements, rubbing alcohol, and masks. It didn’t take long for these supplies to run out.
“Since medical supplies were low at the time, we prohibited people from buying in bulk to give everyone a chance to get their supplies. It was difficult seeing others go through a hard time, so I made sure to extend my care to those in need. I could never forget how thankful customers were for receiving these necessities when they were out-of-stock anywhere else. It only showed how a little consideration could go a long way at a time like this,” Alenah recounted.
Iris Mint, on the other hand, contracted the COVID-19 virus earlier this year and infected her family members at home.
“It’s not easy protecting my loved ones. Aside from precautionary measures taking up the time I should be spending with my family, I can’t stop worrying about their safety. Getting COVID-19 was a turning point for me. At first, I felt down and questioned my profession because I didn’t feel safe anymore. Later on, I realized that to look after others, I have to take care of myself, too. Now, I make sure to take some days off to rest and to eat healthy as well,” she shared.
What helped these frontliners cope with the challenges during the pandemic was teaching at 51Talk, the leading online English education platform in the Philippines and China. This is also true for 38-year-old Cecilia who works as a nurse at a local clinic in Cebu. When their day-to-day operations at work were halted during the lockdowns, she relied on her lessons at 51Talk to keep her afloat.
“My colleagues and I worried that our company would close down. So many “what-ifs” were running through my mind. During that time, 51Talk became my bread and butter. I also used my earnings on the platform to send money to my parents back home,” said Cecilia, who had gone back to work at the clinic last August.
The same goes for Alenah whose shifts at the pharmacy were much shorter than before. She was also quarantined without pay several times, which further cut down her salary. She was able to make up for lost income by conducting more lessons at 51Talk, which became her primary source of livelihood throughout the pandemic.
“My bank account has never run dry since I started teaching at 51Talk,” added Iris Mint, who joined the platform last year to earn on the side. A mom of two kids, she needed another means of livelihood to ensure she can provide for their day-to-day needs.
Alenah, Iris Mint, and Cecilia are just a few of the thousands of online English teachers at 51Talk who have found a steady source of earning teaching on the platform when their salaries at their full-time jobs were compromised during the pandemic.
“Over the past year, 51Talk has seen an influx of applicants who want to teach and earn in the safety of their homes. We are glad that our teach-at-home opportunity has helped the Filipino community amid these trying times, especially the likes of teachers Alenah, Iris Mint, and Cecilia who have been bravely serving on the frontline during the pandemic,” says 51Talk Country Head Jennifer Que.
To accommodate the rising demand for online English teachers, Que said that 51Talk is aiming to attract thousands more teachers this year to meet the continuously rising demand for online English lessons.
To become an online English teacher at 51Talk, visit www.51Talk.ph.