The fuel attendant might have been friendly or not, helpful or less so, but they seldom warrant more than a fleeting few moments of our attention.
Much like fuel attendants, another group of workers that often escapes our notice is security guards. Always in the periphery, providing a quiet but unnoticed feeling of safety and comfort, security guards work day-in and day-out to protect us and our property, with very little regard from the general public as to the ins and outs of their job.
That is, until the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent 35-day lockdown underway in South Africa. Now, unless you are an essential services worker on your way to work, going to the filling station is an occasion to be marked – something that stands out in your day. When you go to the shopping centre for food and other essential supplies, you now notice the security guard standing silently next to the shop doors, monitoring those coming in and out. When you look out of your window in your home office to see a car cruising by, you are relieved and comforted to see it belongs to your neighbourhood security company.
Times have certainly changed, and changed quickly. The true heroes of our country are not those with flashy titles and high-powered careers. They are the ordinary men and women who are doing what they have always done – farm their lands to feed our nation, bring that food to shops across the country, care for our sick, provide us with essential services, and keep us safe.
“These are the people who need to be recognised for their commitment to our country in our time of need,” says well-known philanthropist and businessman in the beauty industry, Peet Viljoen. “They have been asked to step up to the challenge, and they have done so admirably. The lockdown aims to flatten the curve in the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in South Africa, and avoid a crippling influx of patients into already-constrained healthcare services. This kind of lockdown is only possible, however, if people such as fuel attendants and security guards, and the many others on the frontlines, are prepared to put the safety and wellbeing of their countrymen above their own.”
Peet quickly realised that many on the frontlines of the essential service industry, particularly people such as fuel service station workers and security guards, do not have the means to procure protective items such as face masks or hand sanitizer, and could therefore risk increased exposure to the virus.
Acting fast, Peet commissioned the manufacture of face masks made from durable fabric, as well as 70% alcohol hand sanitizer, and distributed over 1 000 of these to essential service employees across Gauteng.
The masks donated to these essential services workers are not only reversible and washable, but they can be disinfected, making them reusable.
“The outer layer features moisture-wicking fabric that does not trap moisture and offers exceptional breathability,” explains Peet. “Our masks are also water-resistant and tear-resistant, with 500-thread cotton twill on the inner layer, making them comfortable as well as durable. Not only have we donated face masks to fuel station attendants and security guards, but also healthcare workers, retail workers and members of the police and defence force, and the less fortunate and their families. This initiative is one I am extremely proud of – we can really see the difference we are making, and we will continue to do so.”