The Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic has gathered to make masks and collect much-needed materials for hospitals, police and the elderly under the hashtag campaign #Vietnamcisijiprocesko.
People were left without masks when the European country was immediately put into quarantine following its first cases of COVID-19.
The Czech Republic reported its second death due to COVID-19 on Tuesday and many others in advanced conditions.
Jana Vu, one of the leaders of the Vietnamese Student Union, was part of the early movement in the region and lives in Vietnamská menšina v Čechách, she told NextShark
Sewing face masks were in response to her cousin, Le Dong Lam, who is a doctor, his patients and colleagues facing shortages of personal protective equipment.
Vu’s mother and two of her friends learned cotton was the best material for making the masks which can come from curtains, pillowcases and T-shirts, Vu said. Resources came in from their family’s home-textile company and the group got to work. Large groups were not allowed to gather, but they soon received help from the neighborhood.
“Suddenly our neighbors offered to help us make some at home with their kids and then it got passed on and on. Everyone joined it,” Vu said. “Even though these were supposed to be the first days some parents got a day off from their jobs in 15+ years they decided to sew masks.”
The neighborhood in Vu’s region makes about 700 masks a day, with a family of four making about 140 to 170 masks.
The need for face masks beyond hospitals and police expanded to other regions of the Czech Republic. Masks were sent to Plzenský, Karlovarský, Středočeský and Jiho Moravský.
Elderly people who didn’t have shops to go to, especially in smaller towns, needed them, Vu said.
“We started getting more offers from shop owners in Vietnamese markets for fabric, elastic bands, and even sanitizers for free,” Vu said.
“Nearly every Vietnamese family is sewing masks and offering free beverages and food for doctors and the police,” Vu said upon the arrival of the materials.
Vu’s cousin, Le Dong Lam, said the masks have been a relief.
“The masks helped a lot. Our hospital didn’t have any masks left. It was relieving that we got so much help from the Viet community,” they said to Vu.
The Vietnamese Student Union in the area also handed 3,000 bottles of sanitizer to shops so their customers could use them.
As a leader in Thanh Nien Sinh Vien o Cong Hoa Sec (TNSV CZ), Vu said that people should follow the organization and community’s example instead of donating or sending old supplies.
“We have been offered donations to buy supplies and all, but it’s not what we need. We just hope people will join in and help the locals and hospitals. It has brought my community closer than ever and I hope it will do the same for other people in other countries.”
All images courtesy of Jana Vu