Disaster Relief - 013310 International Crisis Response

The Mask Makers

When the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in a slum in Chennai, a city on India’s southeast coast, the community was locked off. No one gets in. No one gets out. For the families inside—already living in overcrowded, desperate poverty—it has been devastating.

The little work they had to feed their families is gone. They have run out of food, or it is unaffordable. And they have no way to protect themselves from the spread of the virus.

Self-isolation is impossible for these families who survive day-to-day in cramped, single-room homes—often with elderly or sick relatives. They have limited sanitation facilities and medical care, and even basic protective equipment, like masks, is too expensive. They are at severe risk of COVID-19’s rapid and deadly spread.

An epicenter of hope

But in a narrow room, lined with sewing machines, there is a glimmer of hope, and 46 courageous women.

They are a part of the Women’s Fortress, a Samaritan’s Purse Canada partner project through which you have provided job skills training, Biblically-based counseling, and discipleship to countless women escaping exploitation and abuse.

Now, the Women’s Fortress has become an epicenter of hope in the fight against COVID-19.

Your support is making it possible to employ 46 women, all survivors of abuse, to produce 14,000 face masks for the most impoverished families in the locked-down Chennai slum, and villages surrounding the Women’s Fortress.

The dual-layer masks have a pouch that holds a filter that can be replaced so they can then be washed and reused. The women sew on instructions for use and proper cleaning. Many also choose to stitch in a Bible verse or cross as a message of hope to the wearer.

“We are proud that other families get to have the masks that we are stitching,” said one woman.

Pastors within the Chennai slum will distribute the masks along with emergency food. These supplies will help families living in tiny makeshift homes survive and guard against the spread of COVID-19.

“If we didn’t get this work, we could be starving”

Each mask maker at the Women’s Fortress is making a meaningful contribution to the survival of thousands of others, and also to her own family. For most, the wage they receive producing masks is their families’ only source of income.

“If we didn’t get this work, we could be starving,” said one of the women.

While they work to serve others, they are also living in dire circumstances. One lady with a family of seven had not washed her clothes for five days because she couldn’t afford soap. Another, with two children, is living under a tree after being evicted from her home when her husband lost his job.

With your help, these women can provide for their families during the pandemic, while bringing protection and hope to thousands of others.

A race to save lives

Our teams are moving quickly to also provide hygiene supplies and emergency food to struggling families in Chennai and other areas of India. Please pray for provision. Shortages and skyrocketing prices make this a significant challenge.

We deeply value your continued prayers and support for these women, and others worldwide who are left extremely vulnerable by the spread of COVID-19. In India and more than 30 other countries, we are in a race to reach 350,000 people and save lives. Your prayers and support are at the heart of this life-saving response in Jesus’ Name.

With $20, you can provide items like emergency food to feed a family for two weeks. A gift of $250 can contribute to the cost of 50 people in vulnerable situations, like that in India, receiving resources such as masks and hygiene supplies.

Please continue to bring His hope and compassion to those in great need.

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” Psalm 91:2

Disaster Relief - 013310 International Crisis Response

Samaritan's Purse responds to humanitarian crises with physical aid and a message of spiritual hope for victims of natural disasters, famine, poverty, and war. Your gift will allow us to share Jesus' love through clean water, food, shelter, medical supplies, personnel, and other aid.