New Delhi: Two women, who were forced to flee their homes in search of safety during the communal violence in northeast Delhi only a couple of months ago, have voluntarily come forward to stitch Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits for medical staff fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting an example of how things can change if given a chance.
These women were provided with electronic stitching machines by a group of IITians after the riots ruined their small business. They want these PPE kits to be given to doctors, paramedics, ambulance drivers, sanitation workers who face potential threat from the ongoing pandemic.
The women were provided with sewing machines by an organisation called Miles2Smile led by IIT Delhi research scholar Aasif Mujtaba. He, along with his team, has been engaged in relief and rehabilitation of the riots survivors.
“When we started relief work in worst-hit Shiv Vihar, we were approached by these two women who requested for sewing machines so that they could restart earning a living. It made us happy because we, too, are working on financial rehabilitation of people so that they can lead a dignified life. We arranged two automatic sewing machines for them and also gave them Rs 20,000 for raw material they needed. We had even forgotten them as it was a brief meeting on March 2. When we re-visited the area three days back to distribute ration and other essentials in view of the complete lockdown and restrictions, these women came to us with 2,000 3-ply masks and 20 PPE kits. They offered us to donate it to the needy people who are fighting the ongoing war against COVID-19 outbreak on front lines,” Mujtaba told NewsClick.
Upon enquiring, the women — he said — revealed some contractor had placed an order for the same. With the consent of the contractor, they gifted the team the left over masks and the PPE kits for needy people for free.
“We saw they have replicated the sample provided to them. These are good quality 60 GSM fabric head to toe disposable PPE kits. Acknowledging their skills, we have given them 10 rolls of 70 GSM fabric for producing more kits. They still have 35,000 face masks. They don’t know how to sell it. We are looking for some traders who can buy the consignment,” he added.
One of the two women said that they want to give back to the society the way they have been helped by the relief volunteers. “They (the volunteers) came to our rescue at a time when we were left with nothing. They bought stitching machines for us and asked us to restart our work. Since we have skills, it’s now our turn to work for the society. We also want to contribute in the fight against the disease. There is a shortage of PPE kits and we want to fill in the gap with our small efforts,” she said, requesting for anonymity, as she fears backlash of the police and the administration, which are allegedly hostile.
“Please don’t name us and let us do the good work. We fear harassment. See what happened to Dr Kafil Khan and many others for doing good work,” she said.
These little acts will keep humanity alive, said the relief volunteers, adding that the people were attacked for being Muslims, but now they have developed PPE kits for warriors against COVID-19 across faith and religion. “This shows their courage and resilience to restore humanity and at the same time fight for their rights,” they added.