A series of WhatsApp stickers created that stand for the true spirit of humanity.
March 23rd, 2020. Dr. Shirin Rouhani, physician and general practitioner at Shohada Hospital at Pakdasht, Iran succumbs to the deadly coronavirus infection. After being detected as COVID-19 positive, she was immediately shifted to Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran where her condition deteriorated exponentially. Lauded worldwide by Netizens as a martyr and a true covidwarrior, Dr. Rouhani can be seen treating patients while being on IV drip herself. An epitome of selflessness and courage, Dr. Rouhani and her relentless war against the virus till her last breath is forged in the minds and souls of millions.
March 28, 2020. Virologist Minal Dakhwe Bhonsale, the brains behind India’s first testing kit which delivers results within a matter of 2.5 hours, sets an indelible example of what call of duty means at this critical juncture of the pandemic. As the world struggles to develop COVID testing kits that furnish quick results, Minal Bhonsale delivers on the promise while struggling with the very last leg of her pregnancy. Seen working hours before her delivery, Ms. Bhonsale and her team create history as they develop the test within a record time of 6 weeks compared to the 3-4 months needed for the process.
March 30, 2020. Datta Ram Patil, a small farmer from Nasik, donates wheat growing in his 3-acre land to the poor and daily wagers, the ones left without any steady income to feed their families. Despite bearing the brunt of dwindling income and financial stability like millions of other farmers at this point in the pandemic, Datta Ram has come forward to help the needy reinforcing the notion that only true humanity will help us win the war.
April 6th, 2020. As the citizens of the country are urged to remain indoors, the cops on the street embrace their creative and humorous side to drive across the tenets of nationwide lockdown. Cops in Mumbai and Bengaluru streets can be seen donning helmets that resemble coronavirus to land an impactful message. While many other instances have surfaced where one can see the police force distributing food and water to those in need. From singing songs to chanting slogans, we are witnessing a profoundly new side of the Indian police force, trying their best to flatten the curve.
What is the one common thread that runs through these and thousands of other such stories?
The extraordinary courage of ordinary people.
To capture such instances of such unprecedented grit and character of people who are risking their lives every single day fighting the hard battle for us, so that we are safe from the wrath of the virus, NetBramha Studio decided to say thanks to the Covid Superstars in our special way.
We thought about what would be the best way to include the story of the unsung heroes as a part of our daily lives?
How could we make their contribution a part of our conversations?
How to make the extraordinary stories of ordinary people reach out to millions with the power of design?
And that’s when we turned to the one digital platform that has probably one of the highest penetration among the Indian demography – WhatsApp. With more than 400 million active users, India remains as WhatsApp’s biggest market. Everyone everywhere is a WhatsApp user. From reconnecting with distant relatives and high school friends to sharing funny memes – we all turn to WhatsApp for literally everything.
And this is where we aimed to tell the story of our Covid Superstars.
Not with lengthy forwards that get buried under tons of other messages.
But with something that sticks in the minds and hearts of potentially 400 million users in India and maybe even more.
We decided to create a series of WhatsApp Stickers for COVID superheroes for a diverse array of professions, starting from the most obvious ones, the healthcare workers, to the ones we too often forget such as vegetable vendors, mailmen, delivery agents, sweepers, policemen and more.
“Design transcends agenda. It speaks to the politics of optimism”
With most people stranded away from their families, friends, and loved ones, WhatsApp is one of the few things that keeps people connected against all lockdown and quarantine. Our onus was to make sure that our designs further the idea of this digital connectivity amidst physical separation through educational and universal symbols of hope and selflessness.
Each of these stickers breaks the barrier of language, age, and class and keeps reminding us who the real soldiers are in the current context of a pandemic. Use of vibrant colors and simple yet elegant illustrations that depict each individual professional in his/her work attire and ambiance carefully masked to deter the spread of virus make these stickers a symbolic representation of what’s keeping us alive right now.
“Good design is honest.”
As Tahir Maqbool, UI designer at NetBramha Studios and creator of these stickers remarks, “We are so busy in looking at ourselves, how this pandemic and lockdown is affecting us. We keep complaining about our own miseries. What is going to happen to our lives, our livelihood, our economy?… But in this entire scenario, we keep forgetting that we are still alive and breathing – we have food to eat, water to drink, medical facilities if we get sick, with the click of a button we can order food and groceries. …Who is making this miracle happen? It’s them. All these people around us who are stepping out of their homes, volunteering to step into the war zone, and keeping us alive. ….These stickers are just a way to show them our gratitude. But it is nothing compared to what they are doing out there for us.”
Since WhatsApp is probably the most widely used messaging app in the world, using this platform for distributing and underlining key messages can make a difference. Difference in making us more empathetic and compassionate towards the ones facing COVID frontline every single day.
As we make these WhatsApp stickers a part of our conversations, they gradually become a part of our thinking and perspective. Every time you share this creation, you are sharing the spirit upheld by the COVID superheros – of unity and courage in the face of an unprecedented global disaster.
“Make it simple, but make it significant”
On the surface, something as simple as a WhatsApp sticker might seem inconsequential but it has the potential to play a critical role in propagating the right message and spirit across the population of a billion. These not only stand to increase our awareness of the significant role each of these professionals plays but also to the much deeper thought that no job, no work, no profession is small.
Pandemic or no pandemic, every morning you will witness the sweepers cleaning the streets, the vegetable hawkers walking on the road with their cart full of fresh produce, the doctors and nurses rushing to their call of duty, cops patrolling the streets, farmers marching towards their field, bankers gearing up for the tough day ahead – they have not stopped. They will never stop. And they will keep going.
What wonderful lessons are they teaching us about life!
“People ignore designs that ignore people”
Courage, service, steadfastness, and integrity at the face of this grotesque attack on all of humanity – we are reminded of this every waking minute. Through our creation, we aim to make these enduring lessons a permanent etched mark in our minds. History will remember these COVID superheros as the only lifeline of a bleeding planet.
Though we hear a lot of thank you’s and gratitude around, we are also witnessing one of the worst cultures of stigma, misinformation, violence perpetrating against them. From doctors being viciously attacked to Covid frontline professionals being forced to move out of their homes – there is a shocking air of hatred against those whom we owe our lives too.
Through these WhatsApp stickers, we specifically target to destroy such dogma.
“Design is thinking made visual”
The moment we design, build, and share tangibles that show gratitude and respect for these professionals, we subconsciously create a barricade between love and hate. Look around yourself – the world is full of visual designs that have evolved to become stark identities of both the physical and the abstract. The mere image of Atlas carrying the earth on his shoulder conjures the idea of endurance, the dove symbolizes peace, and the Red Cross a beacon of humanity. Symbols, visuals, and designs have a way of penetrating our minds and collectively impacting the psychology of millions.
In our small yet meaningful way, we are trying to capture the one thing that stands out amongst all the prolonged despair, crashing economies, and a faceless nemesis – the spirit of humanity.
The never-give-up spirit of Dr. Shirin Rouhani, the razor-sharp expertise, and leadership of Minal Bhonsale, the magnanimity of Datta Ram Patil – we aim to concretize their service and make them eternal symbols of philanthropy.
Help us make this dream a reality.
Make these Covid WhatsApp Stickers a part of your conversations and spread the word!
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