[ Higio Zarngam ]
Surprisingly and fortunately, Covid-19 has made many a creative head pop out of their slumber.
The lack of basic medical-related items like masks, sanitizers and other personal protective equipment have made as much news as the disease itself, if not more.
“It shocked me to see that my friend was going on duty without a mask, for there weren’t any in the market. It made me think of many others like her, some in even more vulnerable situations than her, who are risking their lives to ensure that we are safe,” says Joram Rosy, a studio potter, who then took it upon herself to make masks.
To put her thoughts to action, she approached a designer friend of hers, Minam Apang, who already had an idea about the fabric, stitch and other such requirements. Together they made a prototype of the mask and got the sample approved by a doctor.
With some tailoring help from others and some donations from their families and close friends, they have now donated 100 masks to the district administration of Itanagar capital region, and around 200 masks to the health department in Yupia.
While many might consider these masks ineffective against viruses, as opposed to N95 masks, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading national public institute of the United States, has advised the use of such low-cost masks to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
The CDC also recommends wearing cloth coverings on the face as an additional, voluntary public health measure in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to be maintained.
N95 masks are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for the healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
For Tadar Nimey, a post on Facebook mentioning shortage of doctor scrubs or gowns in the hospitals was what triggered her conscience. A designer by profession, she decided to make use of her existing resources, including her staff. She has since then donated scrubs, surgical caps and masks to Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences.
But with the nation on lockdown and with no vehicle pass, commuting to her workplace posed a big challenge to her. “I am grateful to my staff, who followed my instructions step by step,” she says, adding that without their help, she would not have been able to make these things in such a short duration.
There are many others like Rosy and Nimey who have responded to the call to help people at a time when the entire world has been gripped by the pandemic. Some, like Yomde Ete Bayang, Tadar Mena Deru, Tenzing Thongdok and Licha Pera, have also involved themselves in making and donating masks to the frontline workers. People like Nabam Serbang and other volunteers have helped in picking up these masks from Naharlagun and Nirjuli and dropping them off. A few others have volunteered to pay the tailors for these masks.
A common deterrent that these volunteers have been facing is the lack of availability of material. Provide them with it, and lack of masks will be a thing of the past – such has been the level of involvement.
Those mentioned here are but only a handful in a sea of entrepreneurs (mostly women), NGOs and SHGs who have voluntarily come out in these trying times to shoulder the responsibility, contribute their bit in the fight against a common enemy, and express their gratitude on behalf of the entire community.
[ Higio Zarngam ]