NEW DELHI: Mala in Alleppey, Rashmi in Sitamarhi and Sarita in Damoh are busy making masks to protect thousands from coronavirus and at the same time are supporting their family financially during the lockdown period.
Several self help groups, NGOs and local administration have joined hands to ensure that masks -- a very essential means of protection from the infection-- reach everyone in the country.
The move has not only helped in protecting others but has also given livelihood opportunities to several women especially during the period of lockdown when most of them from the unorganised sectors have lost their jobs.
In Kerala, over 300 women-led micro-enterprises under the Kudumbashree, State Poverty Eradication Mission in Kerala -- have manufactured more than 14.50 lakh cloth masks, a representative from the Gram Panchayat of Veeyapuram said.
Priced between Rs 10 and 15 depending on the layering in the mask, the micro-enterprises have by that measure grossed a turnover of around Rs 2 crore through these units to meet the demand for masks and providing a reusable option in cloth, he said.
The masks are being sought through bulk orders by government departments and essential service providers, he added.
Child rights body Save the Children said they had provided support in setting up the apparel training centre in 2018 and women are beneficiaries.
"These women were trained, provided material support and currently they are making masks. This unit is self-sustainable and at this crisis time this is not only providing service to the community but this is also a livelihood support for the marginalised and BPL category women," said Anindit Roy Choudhury, Director Programmes, Save the Children.
These masks are not only ensuring protection of people from coronavirus but also giving a means of livelihood for people like Mala.
Mala has got Rs 8000 so far by for stitching masks under the initiative.
She says she can stitch up to 200 masks every day.
"Sale of the masks is a means of livelihood in this period of lockdown. Earlier, I was not contributing to my family but now I am able to support them financially," she told PTI.
In Assam's Dibrugarh district, the masks are manufactured by Partner NGO of Save the Children, SEWA.
The masks are being made as per the request of the district administration.
Till now 800 pieces which have been made will be distributed in the tea estate, Chaudhary said.
As per SEWA's request the district administration issued a general order to shop owners to supply raw material to SEWA.
"A worker can produce 40 to 50 masks per day. The main aim is to promote the use of masks amongst the common people and also to make the masks available for poor and vulnerable people," he said.
In Damoh in Madhya Pradesh, around 156 women have been involved in production of masks and have made over 50,000 masks till now which are ready for distribution, a local administration official said.
Sarita, who used to earlier work as a daily wager, is now stitching masks in Damoh.
"This way, I can support my family till things return to normal. She says she knew basic training and it is helping her now," she said.
In Bihar's Sitamarhi, women are making masks with support from the government and supplying it to primary health centres.
"We are selling one mask for Rs 20. It is our way to ensure that these affordable masks reach everyone," said Rashmi, a volunteer, involved in stitching these masks.
In east Champaran district and Gaya too, Save the Children is involved in the production of masks.
"In east Champaran district, our partners have received the approval from the government on helping spread the awareness on COVID-19 and on the importance of lockdown and physical distancing. The masks were also made and distributed on the basis of same approval," said Choudhury.
In Gaya, an adolescent group of girls prepared the masks at a local level on the basis of specifications advised by the government and distributed in their community, he said.
He said the materials were procured locally from local vendors.
Due to non-availability of materials, they couldn't make many masks.
He said around 3500 masks were made in two days in Gaya and east Champaran.
"The aim of this program is to orient and make aware children and communities on COVID-19 and its preventive measures. The focus is to mitigate the risk factors related to COVID-19 transmission," he added He said the move not only aims at providing immediate respite to communities through food (dry ration) baskets, hygiene and dignity kits, but also provide livelihood support to make sure that families can deal with the economic blow that the pandemic has brought on to them, said Choudhury.
India is currently under the biggest lockdown with around 1.3 billion people asked to stay home in view of the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 273 lives and infected more than 8,000 people.