Du Yuan, a staff nurse at the Intensive Care Unit at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore’s designated SARS hospital, holds up a clipboard showing handwritten notes from SARS survivor Gladys Lim to her husband Howard who is seeing his wife for the first time since she admitted. Mrs Lim, who was intubated, could not reply to her husband who was speaking into the room via an intercom, and had to resort to penning down her thoughts.

Bryan van der Beek is a Singaporean commercial and editorial photographer. Educated at Indiana University’s School of Journalism, he has won awards for his work from the Hearst Journalism Awards Program, the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) and the Society of News Design. He was also a participant in the Eddie Adams Workshop, the Missouri Photo Workshop and the Kalish Picture Editing Workshop. He has worked at newspapers in the US and Singapore before striking out on his own and has been published in The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and the South China Morning Post among others. His works are in the permanent collection at the National Museum of Singapore. He has covered civil unrest in Indonesia, the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives as well as worked on environmental and social impact stories in the palm oil plantations of Indonesia and Eastern Malaysia. He also spent time documenting the SARS and COVID-19 epidemics from the front lines. He has lectured at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, Temasek Polytechnic and the Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film, where he directed the Shooting Home workshop and mentorship program.

A SARS patient in the ICU undergoes a daily sponge bath and a change of clothes. Patients were mostly intubated and sedated while undergoing treatment.

“A good photo allows a viewer to be closer to a situation ... to feel involved, instead of just an outsider looking in.”

Bryan van der Beek

Healthcare workers run long 12 hour shifts in the high pressure of the ICU. With only one meal break and two short breaks during the graveyard shift, nurses take the opportunity to catch some shut eye when it presents itself.
Child refugees in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka carried by their parents as they wait to see doctors in makeshift tents after the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. 30,000+ Sri Lankans will killed and over 1.5 million were displaced from their homes after the waves devastated the South and East Coasts of the country.
School children in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka chip in to clear debris from their damaged school after a tsunami swept the eastern and sudden coastlines of the city on Boxing Day 2004. The tsunami damaged 183 schools in Sri Lanka and affected nearly 100,000 students across the country. An estimated 40% of the 35,000 lives claimed by the tsunami in the country were children.
The tail section of Mandala Airlines Flight 091 lies in the middle of a devastated street after the Boeing 737-200 crashed in a heavily populated area at the end of the runway of Polonia International Airport in Medan on September 5, 2005. A total of 149 people died, including Governor of North Sumatra, Teuku Rizal Nurdin. Among the victims were 49 people on the ground as the plane plowed through dozens of houses and cars.