While much of the world has been battling with the complexities of COVID-19, India has been among the most hard hit. With over 1.4 million reported coronavirus cases*, and tens of thousands of new cases being added every day, the country’s population of 1.3 billion is at an increased risk of contracting the virus without access to adequate resources needed to stop the spread.
We are all familiar with the suggested protocol for COVID-19: handwashing, mask-wearing and social distancing. But in the slums of India, following this protocol is not so straightforward. In the city of Jaipur alone, nearly a quarter of the population live in slums. Slums usually consist of makeshift housing with no infrastructure for sewage, electricity, or clean water. Families that live in slums are generally very poor and lack access to proper healthcare. Given these innately hazardous conditions coupled with crowded living environments, slums can easily become hotbeds for COVID-19.
Since it’s nearly impossible to follow social distancing guidelines in slums, and many are unfamiliar with protocol around effectively wearing a mask, there was a huge need to not only provide masks to locals but also educate them about COVID-19 and how to properly protect themselves and their families.
In May of 2020, Love Is Project donated a portion of proceeds from theIndia Collection toACCESS Development Services, an organization in India that strives to create sustainable livelihoods and support poverty reduction in India. These proceeds were then used to fund the production of facemasks sewn by local women from a Self Help Group (or SHG)–a community-based group of a dozen women who pool their resources to weather financial storms while building solidarity around issues of local concern.
After bundling the masks in packs of 10, the ACCESS team set out to the slums of Jaipur and distributed masks to poor families along with an educational handout about COVID-19 and proper mask wearing. Thanks to these efforts, 7,000 masks were distributed and are protecting residents who would otherwise be left with no defense against COVID-19.
In an ongoing effort to support this cause, 10% of proceeds from the India Collection will continue to be donated to ACCESS on a rolling basis. Our hope is that these funds will support the creation of more much-needed masks for families in the slums of India, while simultaneously creating sustainable jobs for the women who sew them.
*as of July 2020