Good Samaritan: Rural woman in Odisha making masks to help the poor to fight COVID 19

Sarojini is in her mission to make face masks at her home in Kinaloi locality, Sambalpur
Bhubaneswar:  In the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, people across the globe are coming together to help each other. While the entire world is facing an unprecedented pandemic due to Coronavirus and the Governments leaving no stone unturned to stop its spread, here is a story of Sarojini Kalo of Kinaloi village under Rengali block of Sambalpur district who is helping the poor community in her locality by making masks and providing in a very reasonable price.
Sarojini’s idea to make masks stem when she saw that there is a lack of adequate quantity of protective gear to tackle the deadly coronavirus. Kinaloi is one of the remotest Gram Panchayats in Sambalpur district where there is no medical store. Whatever masks were available in this area, got vanished in a few days as the demand grew. Due to the huge demand, the shoppers started raising the price of the mask between Rs.200 to Rs. 300 which is 10 times higher than the original price which made people tough to buy those, despite their worries. At the same time, it was also important for the people to wear masks as it can play crucial in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Sarojini chose her mission to produce masks for the community herself.
Sarojini says “the lockdown was a blessing for me this way. I could see people are reporting that they need masks and they cannot buy masks which are being sold at higher prices. Then, I realized that I can help them since I know tailoring. Initially, I bought 5 meters of cloths and other materials to prepare masks and started sewing it. But then realized that the demands are more and I continued making masks and provided to the needy in just 15 rupees”.
The 42-years old Sarojini has always been fascinated by helping poor people any way possible and therefore joined Mahila Sangram Samiti, Sambalpur, a district-level people’s collective of Mahila Shramajeebi Manch, Odisha where she works to empower rural women towards their socio-economic and political empowerment.
She further says “It’s our members of Rengali Block team who had thought of this idea. Since I knew tailoring, I could take the task that our team had dreamt up. The support and inspiration from my team members of Mahila Sangram Samiti, members of Mahila Shramajeebi Manch, Odisha and Atmashakti Trust motivated me to do something away with and noble for the community. Without their support and encouragement, it could not have been possible”.
Sarojini first produced the masks among her neighbours and villagers and as the word of mouth spread, she started receiving inquiries from the neighbouring villages. Till now, Sarojini has already churned out 500 masks individually and producing 30 to 40 masks everyday to meet people’s demand.
Sarojini says “Several organizations and offices including the State Bank of India Sambalpur Branch have approached me to provide them face masks. Especially, when the Odisha government made it mandatory for the public to wear masks whenever people venture out of their home, the demand has increased unexpectedly”.
“Sarojini not only made masks and supplied us at a very reasonable price, but she also has distributed masks for free to those who cannot afford to pay 15 rupees and especially to the old people”, says Mr Sanjib Kumar Mishra who lives in the same village and witnessing Sarojini’ s humanitarian work during the pandemic.
“Elderly people are especially vulnerable and their needs are vital. So, I decided to distribute them the mask free of cost”, said Sarojini.
“Her mission to make masks are also stepping up to help cover the shortage of masks in the market and we are proud that Sarojini can do that when there is a need to team up our efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Virus,” says Ms Shanti Bhoi, President, Mahila Shramajeebi Manch, Odisha.
“These face-masks can be washed and used again instead of the typical masks that are worn and then thrown out. Our state government is taking many proactive steps to combat Coronavirus, we still can do our bit and there is no better way for me than to be with my sewing machines to make masks for the poor people who cannot afford the same from the market”, concludes Sarojini.