Amid the economic crisis Lebanon is going through, we are humbled to be able to provide income-generating opportunities to 25 women from three sewing groups we have supported in the past. Thanks to an ongoing partnership, we ordered 14,000 washable and reusable face masks from them. We already received some and started distributing them to all our local church partners, and to vulnerable families, along with food assistance, hygiene supplies, and prevention informational leaflets to help protect them from the spread of COVID19.
Turning a challenge into an opportunity
The spread of COVID-19 in Lebanon and subsequent lockdown has had many consequences on our work and projects. We had to suspend our vocational trainings and education programs and completely rethink the modalities of our food distributions to take into consideration social distancing and safety measures. Although we have been able to maintain our food assistance programs, we faced one problem with our food voucher project at the beginning of the outbreak. Due to safety measures in place, people are not allowed to enter any shop or supermarket without wearing a face mask. This for sure was going to be very problematic for many of the families who receive food vouchers and can’t afford to buy masks. And so it clicked…
After the initial learning phase, we received orders for thousands of winter blankets which were going to be distributed to vulnerable families in Lebanon. We were so excited! We used to come at 7 in the morning and stay late in the evening. If it wasn’t for the electricity being cut off at night, we would have kept working and working! With the money I earned from this project, I was able to pay off all the debt I had accumulated since the death of my son.
It only felt natural to order the 14,000 washable face masks we needed from those skilled women with whom we already work, while providing basic protective equipment and assisting them as needed in developing social distancing strategies for their respective workspaces. We already received some masks and have started distributing them to our local church partners, and to vulnerable beneficiaries who are part of our food assistance programs, along with hygiene supplies and COVID-19 prevention informational leaflets.
An income, and so much more…
The additional income this project will provide to the women is much needed for all of them. In Lebanon, the arrival of the coronavirus only worsened the ongoing dire economic situation, as businesses and borders were closed to control the spread of the pandemic. With the currency losing more than half its value, food prices have soared. Some staples like rice have nearly tripled in price over the year. Unemployment is also on a steep rise. But more than just an income, it also gives the women a renewed sense of purpose and pride. Moza confirms:
The mask sewing project is helping us so much! For starters, I am earning more money through it, which is much needed right now.But we are also aware that these masks will be distributed to families in need, and help protect them from the coronavirus and prevent the spread of the virus in the country. This makes us feel very thankful and proud.