As humanity grapples with one of the worst public health crises of our time, more and more people are becoming involved in the fight against coronavirus, each in their area of expertise.
Individuals from all walks of life and disciplines are lending a helping hand to healthcare workers and professionals who are bearing the brunt of this global pandemic everywhere. From Bergamo, Italy, all the way to New York State, people are paying homage to their healthcare workers.
In Egypt, some of the great citizen initiatives are coming from a most unexpected source: the country’s fashion industry, with celebrity designers like Mohanad Kojak who announced that his household name brand will be donating 100 percent of the proceeds from selected bestsellers to the Abbassia fever hospital.
It is one of only 50 public hospitals equipped to treat covid-19 patients, according to the Ministry of Health and Population, but with the growing pressure on Egypt’s public health system due to the rising number of cases, medical resources are stretched thin.
Egyptian stylist and designer Lamia Rady, founder of up-and-coming fashion brand Rigash, which participated in two Paris Fashion Weeks, has launched her own initiative to address the country’s dire need for face masks amid major market shortages.
“I wanted to help my community in any way I could. There [has been] a lack of masks in pharmacies and people have been asking around for them. I am a fashion designer, I have been sewing since I was 13 and the only way I could think of helping is to create those masks to help people,” Rady tells Egyptian Streets.
Inspired by similar initiatives by individuals from around the world, the young designer has been working tirelessly to produce the masks since Sunday, sewing 15 a day, and donating them to healthcare workers and others who might need them.
The masks are 100 percent cotton and are each fitted with elastic ear loops, an adjustable metal nose bridge, as well as a pocket to insert disposable filters in. And although they do not meet the same standards as the N95—the only mask type approved for the prevention of coronavirus by protecting wearers, homemade cotton masks are more similar to surgical masks, which can help reduce the chances of an infected person spreading the virus, according to experts.
In other cases, homemade masks are used by healthcare workers on top of their surgical or N95 masks, for extra protection.
“I found out that designers abroad are creating them because there is a need for them, there is a huge gap and hospitals are actually requesting hundreds. And at the same time, they are reusable, so they are going to last longer than the regular masks and you can change the filters, so they are good for the environment,” the designer explains.
Homemade cotton masks are also more comfortable and breathable than surgical and N95 masks, which makes them more tolerable. Another suggested benefit is that they may help wearers remember not to touch their faces, especially their mouths, noses and eyes.
Rady, who has worked with Okhtein, Marie Claire and designer Rafik Zaki, started producing the masks alone, but was later joined by several friends and acquaintances who are executing the same design. The young artist has reportedly shipped a second batch of masks to hospitals and is currently working on more.
To find out how you can help or to know more about the initiative, visit Lamia Rady’s instagram page.