Anant Naik is training to be a doctor, so as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was no question that he would find a way to help. But after medical students from across the country were pulled from their clinical clerkships, caring for patients at their bedside would not be an option, and Naik looked to his other skills to contribute to those in need.
Motivated by the many essential workers serving on the frontlines, Naik took a chance on a new endeavor—writing a children’s book. With help from family, friends and mentors, Naik wrote a poem to honor essential workers—from healthcare workers, to truck drivers, to postal workers—serving others despite the great risk to themselves.
The result was Heroes of a Pandemic, a book written specifically for children explaining how the virus began and celebrating the heroes who have emerged. Naik submitted the finished story and illustrations through a self-publishing service. Now accepted, his book is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and will soon be available in stores across the country.
But as the pandemic looks to spread to more under-resourced regions throughout the world, Naik has committed all proceeds from the book to an organization that he knows will be there to help—Doctors Without Borders. “It’s an organization that goes to some of the toughest regions of the world to deliver healthcare to anyone that needs it. It really fits within my personal philosophy of healthcare, and it’s incredibly noble and inspiring,” he said.
While completing illustrations for Heroes of a Pandemic, Naik thought of a new effort to address food insecurity as he observed the growing economic implications of the pandemic.
“Food insecurity is often one of the first challenges as a consequence of people becoming unemployed. I was thinking of ways to use the art skills that I have to find a better creative outlet,” he said.
Motivated by the mounting threat of hunger in America, Naik posted to his Instagram account, asking friends to send five dollars or more, and he would draw a picture at their request. “I was only expecting five people to send me money and that would be my small little win,” he said.
As of today, he’s received over 50 requests and raised over $600, with all proceeds being donated to Feeding America.
Naik continues to balance his coursework with the many painting requests he’s received, and is hoping this effort will make an impact on food insecurity in America. Additionally, he hopes the lessons from Heroes of a Pandemic will honor the many heroes who have selflessly served during the pandemic.
“I hope that children can look at this book as a remembrance of who were the people that made an impact during this crisis,” he said. “I wanted it to be a way to memorialize the sacrifice that so many members of our society put in to make sure that people were safe and secure. I’m hoping that those who were either affected by COVID-19 or are healthcare heroes look at this book as a type of recognition of their efforts, and as a way to pass on that recognition to future generations.”
For more information on Heroes of a Pandemic, visit his website.