By - Nisha Sinha
In the current Covid-19 crisis, social distancing is taking a toll on our community. Physical distancing is hard and may negatively impact the society. But, in this pandemic, Sewa International USA's Boston chapter is taking a step forward to bolster our community through its volunteer work.
The rapid spread of coronavirus has left the healthcare workers with severe shortage of face masks. Sewa recently launched its DIY mask project. Through its strong network of sewing enthusiasts, Sewa is determined to help the healthcare workers in the frontline of this pandemic.
Currently Sewa has delivered close to 750 masks to 8 of the leading hospitals in Massachusetts.
Sewa has distributed free masks to the employees of Spice Hut, a popular Indian grocery store in Framingham. As the consumers struggle to grapple with Covid-19 and social distancing, these employees are still committed to provide the supply of essentials to its consumers.
Ideation of DIY masks
It all started with a brief conversation between two volunteers. They were discussing how this pandemic is growing exponentially and the healthcare professionals are directly impacted by it. Driven by Sewa’s mission of serving humanity in distress and providing an aid to local communities, they decided to take a step further and launch the project DIY mask.
They pitched the idea to the National team and got approval to roll the project. The next step was to form a core team of self-motivated volunteers who were willing to contribute their time and talent towards the project. In no time, a team was formed and work was distributed right from collecting the fabric from the stores, arrangement of sewing machines, dividing the work of cutting and stitching the fabric and delivering the final products to the healthcare centers. Currently there are total 52 volunteers working on the project.
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation
Following the nationwide guidelines of social distancing and the rules of stay-at-home, Sewa volunteers found a way to connect virtually and implement the DIY mask project. It is a common understanding that not everyone can do everything. But with a united effort we can make a big difference. Instead of in-person, a virtual session was scheduled to teach sewing.
The volunteers learned the basics of cutting the fabric, taking the right measurements, and sewing the elastic with the fabric. Within the first few days when the project started, the volunteers were able to sew almost 100 masks.
As the project gradually progressed, this also led to the realization amongst the volunteers that they have the time and virtual space to build and improve relationships in a new way.
Guidelines for the DIY masks
There are guidelines of carefully handling the mask sewing kit and delivery the final product. Sewa volunteers are following the hygienic procedure of handling the raw materials.
The collection team must wear gloves while picking the fabric from the stores.
After collecting the fabric, it is washed and sanitized with utmost precaution.
The sanitized fabric is packed in a sealed bag and dropped at the doorstep of various volunteers who are responsible for sewing.
The sewing team handles the material with utmost precaution while cutting and stitching. Hands are washed and sanitized and stitching is done in a clean place.
After the masks is ready, it is packed in a sealed bag and left at the doorstep and the collection team is informed.
The collection team comes and picks the sealed bags of masks from the doorstep.
At all times, the volunteers engaged in pick and drop of the materials should wear a mask and gloves and follow all the guidelines of social distancing.
Encouraging children in Volunteerism
Confusion exist about how long will this crisis last. In the midst of the pandemic, school closures and widespread social disruption, families are learning to adapt to this novel crisis. Parents find this as an opportunity to encourage children in community service while working from home. It is heartening to see young children lending a helping hand in cutting and measuring the fabric.
Committed in community service:
Amid this unprecedented time, it is incredible to witness the commitment of Sewa volunteers. Our healthcare workers are overwhelmed with sick patients, and limited resources to protect themselves. Sewa is continuing to inspire many people who offer to help the community. While maintaining social distancing and united in their mission, Sewa is determined to fulfill its three-fold mission of serving the community in distress, aiding the local community and promoting volunteerism.