Fourteen sewers, one goal: to make as many masks as possible as fast as possible. In the middle of last week, Dana Lafuente, head of the Staff Development Department at the MDC, wrote an email to colleagues calling on them to help create cloth face masks – by pulling out their sewing machines or contributing fabric. Numerous employees answered the call; some praised the effort, others donated fabric, and many signed up to sew. On Tuesday the first masks went to self-help and neighborhood community centers in Berlin-Buch and Karow, with each center receiving around 30 of the home-sewn masks. Mike Brüggert, a driver at the MDC, collected the finished products from the sewers and distributed them.
“We want to help our community in a concrete way. Many local people, especially residents and workers at refugee shelters and nursing homes, urgently need such masks, but they don’t have the time to make them themselves,” Lafuente says. In addition, she and the volunteer sewers – Lafuente also sewed masks over the Easter break – want to support their own colleagues: The MDC is currently operating with a skeleton staff, and providing these employees with face masks will help keep the virus from spreading in the Center’s labs and offices. “If you wear one, you protect me; if I wear one, I protect you,” is how Lafuente sums up the purpose of the masks.
While the cloth masks are not medical grade, they do provide some level of protection against transmission. The masks crafted by MDC employees are made of cotton fabric and can be washed at 60°C and reused. The design includes a pocket in the front to allow for the insertion of a filter. More masks are slated to be distributed on Thursday. This batch will go to MDC staff members who have requested one as well as to Refugium Buch, a refugee shelter run by the voluntary welfare association Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO). There are also plans to provide masks to the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC ), a joint institution of the MDC and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
Text: Wiebke Peters