Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Family’s initiative to fabricate face masks has produced 40,000 to date

A nurse’s Facebook plea for empty, plastic one-liter soda bottles has turned into a home industry for Maribel Diez and her family.

Nurse Lourdes Rodríguez Santoyo recorded a video asking for people to donate the plastic bottles so she could make face masks for her colleagues at the Tacuba General Hospital in Mexico City to provide protection against the coronavirus. Diez not only took up the call, she did one better — make that 40,000 better — and counting. 

Diez and her siblings started a fundraising page on March 25 asking for donations to help fund a project to make the masks themselves. Each mask costs about 10 pesos (US $0.42) in materials, and Diez’s siblings and friends would provide the labor for free. 

“That’s the day I knew I could help,” Diez says. 

To date, 361 people have donated 200 pesos (about US $8.50) each via the website, and although the original goal when the campaign started was to make just 5,000 masks, by April 13 they had already made 40,000, with a new goal set at 80,000. The masks have been donated to over 100 hospitals and clinics across Mexico. 

Maribel Diez and her brothers, makers of face masks.
Maribel Diez and her brother and sister, makers of face masks.

Outside Mexico City, over 4,000 masks have been sent to Baja California, Coahuila, Colima, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Morelos, Nayarit, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Around 150 more clinics have been placed on a waiting list as production ramps up. 

Teamwork and the simple desire to help others are what’s behind this heroic effort, and now more than 100 families have joined the Diez family’s project. Due to social distancing, most have never seen the other volunteers face-to-face. 

Those who want to help are sent an instructional video and each works on one of several steps in the production of masks before sending them on, similar to a production line. 

The Diez family’s niece, María José Robles, is a gynecology resident and helps connect the boxes and boxes of masks with healthcare professionals.

“We look for people who have direct contact with patients; nurses, doctors and medical residents,” she says. “Those are the people we feel will make the best use of these materials.”

The project’s Facebook page is full of photos of medical staff smiling from beneath the plastic masks, the result of one family’s initiative — adopted by scores of volunteers — that may actually be saving the lives of countless Mexican health workers and the patients they treat. 

“We’re not a success story,” says Diez. “We will be when Mexico beats this virus.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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