Meet Alefiya Vaziri from Mumbai who has been making masks and distributing them amongst vegetable vendors, street cleaners and poor people, free of cost.

Living in Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai, Alefiya has made almost 60 masks using soft cotton pieces that she had in her home. This great initiative of her’s has helped many people to stay protected during the Coronavirus outbreak – especially those who cannot afford to buy masks from the stores.

Initially, she went through some trial and error processes before making the perfect design and stitching the masks. Alefiya has received tons of praise and appreciation for putting in effort to help the helpless. Currently, Alefiya is staying at Ghodapdeo transit housing due to the redevelopment project in her neighbourhood of Bhendi Bazaar.

On being asked about her inspiration for this initiative, Alefiya said, ‘I got this idea of making homemade masks from our community leader, Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. We have always been told to use our skills for the sake of society by him. So, with this inspiration, I joined the online women’s initiative, Mighzal, which runs a programme called #Mask-a-thon. In this initiative, women from our community make homemade masks and distribute them among neighbours and essential service providers like lift men, vegetable vendors, security persons, etc.’

We also wanted to know if Alefiya has faced any issues while working for this cause. She said, ‘Yes I faced certain issues indeed, mainly with the elastic bands that are used to wear the mask around the ears. Primarily I have used all the elastic that I had at my home and couldn’t buy extra as the shops were closed because of the lockdown. But now I’m using the offcut pieces of cloth to tie the masks.’

On being asked about how many masks she has made till now, Alefiya said ‘I have made around 50-60 masks.’

Covid-19 has not only brought public health emergencies around the world, but people are also facing an economic crisis. When we asked if Alefiya had to bear any expenditure for making the masks she answered, ‘I didn’t have to bear any expenditure for this initiative. I’m using the cloth material and thread available at home. So there is no extra cost that I have to pay for.’

Lastly, she said, ‘My only message to people during this global pandemic is to be safe, stay at home and please use masks while going out of your homes. It’s not difficult to make a mask and you can do it with your hands without even needing a sewing machine. I also believe that we need to take necessary precautions even after the lockdown is over.’

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