As the world struggles in various ways to deal with the global pandemic of COVID19, women of Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh are rising up to the urgent demand for masks, a scarce item in the local markets.

Under the aegis of the Nightingale Self Help Groups Federation, which was initiated and trained by the North East Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) Changlang in Bordumsa circle, has plunged into making masks to augment the acute need of the hour.

Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most neglected districts with a population of 1,48,226.

Bordumsa circle has a population of 29,347. Being remote these areas face acute shortages of any essentials at even the best of times.

Masks have become a scarce item everywhere, including in the advanced countries like the USA as it is reported by the Media in the wake of global health pandemic.

Here in the remote corner of India, the scarcity is even more acute as supplies coming from outside the state is erratic at the best of times, has stopped because transport and communications have been thrown off rails due to the total anti-coronavirus lockdown in the country.

Locals said that during the last few days people have been desperately searching for masks, which is said to be one of the protective gear recommended for protecting oneself and ones neighbors from getting the dreaded virus.

Health workers and other emergency staff in the district were going about their duties without masks which is unacceptable, said local sources.

That was when, just a few days ago, the women decided that they cannot wait folded hands for supplies to come from outside.

With the help of the Deputy Commissioner, R K Sharma they have decided to take up the challenge to fulfill the severe local needs by stitching their own.

The Business Development Officer, Nanju Simai Tikhak  told Northeast Now that the Nightingagle Federation had 10 SGHs under it and all the members had been trained under the many programs of the  NERCORMP working through the Bordumsa Mahila Mandal. The women are from different villages under the Bordumsa circle.

Tikhak said that the SHGs had been trained to make making re-usable cloth sanitary napkins, panty liners and baby diapers.

These have a big demand locally and the women were engaged in making these to fulfill many orders they got for them from the general administration, health and education departments.

But now because of the need for masks they had diverted their work to this. Besides, it is a business opportunity that cannot be missed, despite it being under the gloomy circumstances of the need created by the fear of COVID19.

She said that the masks made by the women are clean, hygienic and sanitized.

“They have initially sourced the raw material from Udaipur, Rajasthan and now they get it from Tinsukia, Assam and sometimes from the local market,” Tikhak said.

The women are working round the clock to fulfill the demands as well as train others. Eight women are engaged in the task while 2 are master trainers supporting them.

Tikhak said that there was a great scarcity of masks in the market so the  master trainer Pisilu Singpho had  stitched one for herself and was using it.

“We found it excellent when we saw it and suggested that they make it in bulk for the public after sanitizing it with a detol wash,” she said.

When the DC of Changlang, R K Sharma was informed about it and saw the masks, he was impressed.

The product got the thumbs-up when it was seen and approved by the ADC (IAS) Bordumsa and Diyun Circle, Devansh Yadav, a trained medical doctor himself.

This set the ball rolling when then and here they got an order for 100 masks from the administration.

Using women SHGs to make masks seems to be catching up with the ADC of Miao Circle giving an order for 500 masks to another SHG  facilitated by the Seva Kendra Arunachal East under the NERCORMP.

Meanwhile, they are now going to try their hand at making hand sanitizers, another compulsory requirement for the safety protocols to safeguard against corona virus but which is nowhere to be found in the market.

While it is the most needed item to help people keep safe from COVID19 people are deprived of it.

She said that the women will make it following the World Health Organization guidelines and make it available for the common people as well as government departments.

She said she is sure it will be another hit, both as a business deal and a major contribution in the fight against global pandemic of Novel Corona Virus.

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