Meet the ‘Fantastic Five’ at Arunodayam Charitable Trust making face masks for the public
Wearing a face mask is compulsory in Tamil Nadu but there are not enough quality masks available. Many cannot afford to buy them either. To ensure that vulnerable people are protected from the coronavirus, five disabled girls from Chennai’s Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust are making these masks as per globally approved benchmarks and distributing them to the poorer sections of society.
They may not fully understand what the COVID-19 or coronavirus means, but they are sensitive to the suffering it is causing and are doing their part to help out.
Meet Bhanu, Fatima, Nitya, Anu and Akshaya. These five young girls are residents of Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust, a residential facility in Chennai for children with intellectual disabilities abandoned by their families.
Masks distributed for free to poor & disabled people
Every day, from 10 am to 5.30 pm, these girls and their trainers are busy stitching cotton multi-layered reusable face masks for poor, needy families living on the streets. They have been at work since 14 April, when the state government announced that face masks are mandatory.
We realised that not everyone would be able to afford face masks. For the last one year our members have been learning tailoring as part of the vocational curriculum at the trust and we decided to use those skills to make face masks for people who are poor, homeless, disabled and also migrant workers. – Iyappan Subramaniyan, Founder, Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust
Masks made as per global standards
Iyappan proudly calls them his ‘Fantastic Five’ and credits them as ‘architects of the initiative’. From an initial 100 masks a day, they now make 200, closely following the standards specified on the website for Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a leading national public health institute in the United States. The site gives clear instructions on how to make multiple layer masks that are safe and comfortable to wear.
“This is our contribution to the society, which has always helped us whenever we have asked for it”, says Iyappan who was moved to help the disabled community after he saw the suffering experienced by his elder brother who has Down syndrome.
Now the centre is flooded with orders from many organisations and members of the public “Just yesterday I received an order for 2,000 masks”, says Iyappan. The trust distributes 100 masks a day for free while the remaining 100 are sold to the public at a reasonable cost of Rs 15 per mask. The team plans to continue doing this until the lockdown is in force.
“The girls understand that people are suffering and they are doing this to help others”, says Iyappan. “We encourage them to give the masks to people who come to the centre and when people send pictures to us wearing the masks, we show it to them as well”.
Watch in Sign Language
- Kids with intellectual disabilities abandoned by families find a home for life at Sri Arunodayam Charitable Trust
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