Face Masks for humanity – an initiative of Aga Khan Preschools
With the interest of the community in mind, Aga Khan Preschools (AKP) resolved to contribute, by making face masks available to people in the villages, especially to the underprivileged population in the areas in which they operated.
Wearing a face mask is one way we can all help in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus – this has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of India. This is especially important in public and/or community settings, where you are likely to be in close proximity to other people.
As the lockdown is being relaxed across India, it has become essential to wear face masks if we go out of our homes, and hence the demand for face masks have increased. With the constant increase in COVID cases, doctors, nurses and the community frontline workers are experiencing a severe shortage of affordable facemasks. Also, buying face masks is an expensive proposition for those earning low incomes and those that have been financially impacted by this pandemic.
Karamshibhai, a daily wage labourer from a remote village in Dhari, Gujarat says - “It is a very difficult time for us. Now that the lockdown has opened up, we want to go out and start making a living but because of the covid disease we do not feel safe. We do not have money or access to getting masks”.
With the interest of the community in mind, Aga Khan Preschools (AKP) resolved to contribute, by making face masks available to people in the villages, especially to the underprivileged population in the areas in which they operated. Over multiple remote meetings, the committee members prepared a plan and set the processes going, as per the prescribed guidelines by health agencies. They procured the raw-materials, identified volunteers with a sewing machine at home, provided technical guidance to sew facemasks, mobilised resources and distributed the masks, adhering to the social distancing norms.
The Aga Khan Preschool committee members, parents and teachers, willingly volunteered for the “Mask making” activity and completed more than 5000 masks in less than 2 weeks’ time. The facemasks were distributed by the Aga Khan Preschool team to the various local government authorities, for further distribution to the needy.
The face mask donations, made by Aga Khan Preschools, has been a boon for the local populations in these remote areas. Bulbul, a vegetable vendor from Botad town in Gujarat says – “I visit many places and meet many people daily while selling vegetables and it is difficult to cover my face all the time with cloth or handkerchief. I cannot afford to buy a mask which can be worn only once. I thank the team of Aga Khan Preschool – Botad to give me reusable mask which I wash at night and use in the daytime during my work. Now I am more confident and feel safe when I go out to sell vegetables”.
The face mask donations have also touched the hearts of many Covid warriors from the Administration and the social workers who are toiling hard on a daily basis to increase awareness of Covid-19 among the local population.
Jyotsnaben Sagathiya, President, Bhanvad Nagar Palika quoted – “We are grateful for the support coming in from Aga Khan Preschool - Bhanvad as we work hard to respond to the spread of the coronavirus. The handmade face masks donated to us will definitely be a great support for us to work in these difficult times. It will be wrong if I don’t mention that Aga Khan Preschool Local Committee’s mask donation is the first of its kind of donation to the Bhanvad Municipality”.
Dr. Iqbal Sama, who led this initiative said, “The LMC chairpersons, of all the Aga Khan Preschools, were unanimous in sharing their excitement to participate in this initiative. They were keen to implement it as soon as possible to help their respective villages during this crisis. Their teams of teachers and volunteers enthusiastically supported execution of the idea of homemade, reusable facemasks for their villages. These were a blessing for the families with low incomes in the village.”
Photos (top to bottom):
- Mask distribution at Kera
- Volunteer making masks at Dhari
- Mask Distribution to the underprivileged by volunteers
- AKP volunteers handover masks to the President of Bhanvad Municipal Council