- A mother and son from South Delhi’s C. R. Park are distributing face masks
- Face masks stitched at home are provided for free
- 5 mask dispensing boxes have been installed in C.R. Park
New Delhi: The outbreak of Novel Coronavirus has introduced the world to a new normal which includes practising social and physical distancing, wearing a face mask, ensuring hygiene at all times, among other things. While trying to adapt to the new normal, Sourav Das, a 24-year-old filmmaker from South Delhi purchased two N-95 masks – one for himself and one for his mother – priced at Rs. 300 each. The motive behind purchasing masks was simply to protect the family from contracting COVID-19, but the idea didn’t go well with his mother.
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The mask was neither washable nor reusable and yet it cost Rs. 300 per piece, said 56-year-old Laxmi Das, mother of Sourav Das, while speaking to NDTV.
At the same time, Ms Das came across an article on the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) kits and masks for the frontline healthcare workers. The shortage of protective gear for the frontline workers and unreasonably high prices moved Ms Das, a homemaker, and raised a question – what about people who can’t purchase masks? The innocuous question made Ms Das step up and support fellow countrymen in her own way.
Stitching For The Underprivileged
One of my uncles is a farmer and while working, he is exposed to dust particles. For my uncle, his team and neighbours, my mother was anyway stitching face covers, but because of the Coronavirus crisis, we don’t know when we will be able to travel and provide these face covers to them. Hence, my mother decided to stitch face masks and distribute it among underprivileged people who don’t have the luxury to buy masks for Rs. 300 or more, recalled Sourav.
Following this, Sourav got home a surgical mask for his mother to study and replicate the design. The very next day, Ms Das stitched dozens of masks and distributed it among house help, electricians, daily wagers, shopkeepers and others around her house in South Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park.
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Talking about where did the duo sourced the fabric for masks, Ms Das said,
One of my brothers has a workshop where he teaches underprivileged women to stitch nightgowns. However, because of online shopping, his business has been hit hard. Since he had piles of unused cloth, he gave it to us for the noble cause.
Mask Dispensers For Hygienic Delivery Of Face Masks
However, Sourav was not impressed by the way these masks were distributed – from hand to hand. As specified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the contagious disease COVID-19 is transmitted from close contact. And the physical distribution of masks increased the risk of contracting the virus. Therefore, Sourav designed a mask dispenser using cardboard boxes.
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The mask dispenser has a slit at the bottom and works like a regular tissue dispenser installed at washrooms in offices, malls and hotels. Elaborating on the mask dispenser and how one can collect a mask without touching other masks in the box, Sourav said,
One has to pull the string of the mask which we usually leave hanging out of the box and collect the mask. Following this, the string of the next mask will be left hanging for the next user. No two dispensers are same in size and shape as they are made using different waste boxes. While the smallest box can store 13 masks, the bigger can have upto 30 masks.
Such five dispensers have been placed at all four markets of C.R. Park and one around Das’s house. Each dispenser is accompanied by the message, ‘Pick one, stay safe’.
We are doing whatever little we can in our own capacity. My mom stitches 25-40 masks every day and the boxes are replenished every alternate day, said Sourav.
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This way, the mother and son duo has distributed more than 2,200 months in over 2 months. According to Sourav, the free distribution of face masks has received a positive response especially from rickshaw pullers, vegetable and fruit vendors, shopkeepers and others.
“Since masks are a must these days, I ask customers who forget their masks to take one from the box,” Naveen Chandrasheel, who runs a salon at Chittaranjan Park and has a mask vending box near his shop, told PTI, a news agency.
Appreciating the move, Devlina, Sourav’s neighbour told NDTV,
In the time of the pandemic, every small help towards our society will make a huge impact. People in C. R. Park and the adjoining areas are getting benefitted by this, especially, daily workers, house helps and vendors who cannot afford a mask on their own.
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