By Amrit Prasad Poudel Myagdi, Sept. 11: Soni Koju, 25, is a frontline health worker, a medical laboratory technologist, at Beni Hospital in Myagdi. Working in a hospital which is the 'go-to' for around 130,000 people if they fall sick, Koju has been laden with a lot of responsibilities at a young age, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. "During the evenings, I call my mother to forget the tiresome day I have at the hospital. My mom, in a worrisome voice, tells me to resign and return home," said Koju. "But I tell her that I must work on the frontline to make thousands of mothers happy." Currently, 16 doctors are deployed at the Beni Hospital and besides Myagdi, patients from a few areas of Baglung and Jaljala Gaupalika of Parbat also visit the hospital to receive medical services. With unshaken confidence and strong willpower, Koju flaunts the white Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) daily to lead the frontline in collecting the swab samples of suspected COVID-19 patients. She has taken over the command of Myagdi district in the nation's battle against the pandemic. Originally from Taulche of Bhaktapur Municipality-9, Koju reached Beni Hospital on May 19. She has collected over 1,000 swab samples until now. Standing as the major pillar of Beni Hospital's laboratory, Koju performs her duty for over 18 hours a day. "I come to work at 5:00 am in the morning. There is no exact time for my duty hours to be over," she said. Koju also has had some bad experiences in the midst of the pandemic where the locals tried to stigmatise her. While collecting the swab samples from Darbang in the western part of Myagdi, the locals were uncomfortable with her using the toilet. "I reached each and every area of the district to collect swab samples. It was difficult to collect hundreds of samples in a single day, but I never ran away from my responsibility," she added. Remembering the health workers being mistreated by the neighbours and landlords, Koju said, "As I stayed within the hospital premises, I didn’t face any misbehaviour. But my colleagues were told to not return home after duty. However, we were successful in convincing them with the help of the District Administration Office, hospital administration and the District Public Health Office." "It is said that all challenges come with opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic is teaching a lot of lessons regarding public health in this area," she added. "While collecting swab samples of different people from various places, we are also exposed to the risk of being infected with the virus," said Koju. "We get our PCR tests done regularly. Due to the appropriate use of all the safety shields, we have been successful in remaining uninfected from the virus." Koju said that the District COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee and her colleagues Rajani Ramjali, Shristi Ramjali and Gyaneshwor Acharya had helped her greatly in leading the task of swab collection for PCR test in the district.