I was the guest speaker tasked with giving a motivational speech at an awards ceremony for graduating nurses at Groote Schuur hospital last week.
And some of the things that struck me most were the passion and the pride, but also the hurt they’ve been forced to endure over the past few months.
There’s been some unbelievable dedication happening in hospital wards that would break most of us.
I heard of extra wards having to be opened to care for numbers of patients that haven’t ever been seen before, forcing nurses to work back-to-back, 12-hour shifts for days in a row.
I heard of how many of them have been using their personal data so worried relatives can video-call loved ones.
I heard of how those same exhausted nurses still find the energy to pull long study hours, so they can further themselves and better their own lives.
This is not even to mention the fact that they have their own families to care for, after having to deal with rude, dismissive, angry and crude family members almost every day.
I could also appreciate the undertones of hurt they carry about the accusations flung at them from the anti-vax crowd.
I could sense the dismay about the protest they had to witness on the hospital’s doorstep from that very same crowd, while they were battling to save the lives of fellow Capetonians gasping for air a few metres away.
And how their oath means that they would have to treat those very people, should they end up on the inside a few weeks later.
I picked up on the near-defeat they must feel about the thanklessness with which they go about experiencing their daily realities.
I told them that my task would be an insult to them, because they have in fact motivated me and inspired countless others.
Because while they must be beyond fatigued, they remain determined to help.