"Above and beyond" is an understatement when describing Luciana Lira, a Connecticut teacher who has been taking care of her student's newborn brother for a month as the family recovers from the coronavirus.
Lira got a phone call in early April from Zully, the mother of one of her students. Zully was 8 months pregnant, in labor and COVID-19 positive. She called to ask whether the elementary school teacher can get in contact with her husband who doesn't speak much English and meet him at Stamford Hospital.
Upon arrival, the family asked Lira if she could take care of baby Neysel until they find out if the child's father and 7-year-old brother were also infected. Lira didn't hesitate.
"This should not happen. This father, who adores his son, who adores his son so much, can’t even go near his son. I just felt extremely depressed and sad. It’s a stranger who’s taking the baby home," Lira told the Courant.
Neysel was born 5 weeks premature via emergency C-section and Zully was put on a ventilator, according to Lira. Miraculously, the baby was COVID-19 negative and is doing well.
Lira's friend and colleague, Joy Colon, says the nurses at the hospital asked if Lira was Zully's relative because she was listed as the primary contact, and Lira responded: “I'm just a teacher.”
Lira is not just a teacher. While keeping up with the virtual curriculum, she also takes care of her own son and husband. Even after taking in the baby, Lira continues to find ways she can offer support to Zully.
She started a GoFundMe to help raise money for her student's family to cover healthcare and living expenses. After having spent three weeks in the hospital and receiving the experimental plasma treatment, Zully was allowed to return home in late April but she's still COVID-19 positive.
Lira only hopes that baby Neysel can be reunited with his family by Mother's Day.
Colon's tribute to Lira perfectly sums up her friend's act of kindness. She said: "Essential workers are out there working every day. We're all at home, working and groping for an understanding of this new normal that caught all of us off guard. But this unselfish act reminds us that our humanity makes us all essential...to each other. How will each of us respond when we are asked to simply show up and help."