Ground Report, Wahid Bhat:
The battle against COVID-19 gets women ‘warriors’ in Kashmir. Fashion designers, small-time tailors and students volunteer to tide over the shortage of masks, body-bags and personal protective equipment vital for the front-line health workers.
Sadia Mufti personal protective equipment is different from the routine supply. “It has a boot and a hood, which covers the face except the eyes, in one piece. The stitch is in such a way that it is easy for medicos to put it on.” Twenty eight year old Sadia Mufti has the answer to the acute shortage of masks in Kashmir because of the lockdown. The designer and owner of Hangers, a boutique in Srinagar Sadia has started producing masks for health workers and local Kashmiris to protect themselves —as far as possible—from the Corona virus.
“I went to the market for buying masks for myself, my family and my workers, but I could not get any. There was shortage of masks. The quality was not up to the mark and the masks were costly. That is when I thought I could help by making good quality masks at a very low price,” she told .
The 28-year-old designer turned a part of her Rawalpora residence into a workshop where a team of eight people work hard each day to help increase the supply and availability of the masks. “I made a few masks and uploaded their pictures on social media. I got a good response and then started making three-layered masks,” she said.
Iqra Ahmed, a 24-year-old fashion designer from Srinagar, Kashmir has joined the battle against #Covid19 after the valley ran out of masks during the #21DayLockdown. Iqra started making hand-stitched masks with the help of the employees at her boutique, Tul Palav. Iqra the owner of tupalav said in her Instagram post “Today we have got all the time to think, ideate and make the most of the ample time available to us.
Homemade masks are not as effective as the N95 or surgical masks but are definitely better than nothing.The below tutorial shall help us in making face masks at home with common materials”. Brand Tulpalav is organically Kashmiri and I see women wearing tulpalav clothes with pride.
In Instagram post she said “People have loved and appreciated my work and I think its my duty to give something in return especially during such unfortunate times”. She added “I m doing nothing as compared what I have received from my people”. The masks that I make may not be 100% safe but Im sure they are better than not nothing” She further said “Keeping Kashmiris in mind, this brand was born and my motivation for making masks is the same. I want to do my bit. Thats it. I just cannot sit back and relax when I know I can be of some help”.
Aayat Tanweer (10), a resident of Karan Nagar area of the city here, not only turned to mask making, but also made a video tutorial on how to make them.
“My target is to make 100 masks a week as there are not enough masks available,” she said in a video which went viral on social media leading to appreciation from the netizens. We should be able to protect ourselves against this virus by following preventive measures,” said Aayat. She is also worried about the doctors and valley’s health-care system. “Even our doctors don’t have masks,” she said.
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Bilal Ahmad Malla
Bilal Ahmad Malla who was selected for a PhD programme in Physical Education in a university of Madhya Pradesh, instead of concentrating on his studies, Malla has chosen to make around 40-50 masks daily and later distributes these free of cost. “I do not want anything. I am doing my bit for the sake of Allah. Let Allah have mercy on all of us,” he said. “I had a sewing machine at home, so I thought why not utilise the same for something productive.
However, for the first couple of days, I could only make about a dozen masks. I faced difficulties as it was something I had not done before,” he said. It was his sister – who works at the machine for some stitching works — who gave Malla some lessons at the craft. His father, who is into fruit business, also lent his hand.
Cloth face masks at home:
- Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it was a single piece of fabric.
- Fold over the long sides ¼ inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.
- Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight. You can use hair ties or elastic headbands too. If you only have a string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.
- Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.