These are unprecedented times for the world, where we are facing a global health scare like never before. The coronavirus pandemic has spread like wildfire all across the globe in the last couple of months, with governments and global organizations scrambling to contain it. With no vaccine available, the only resort has been to have people stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as much as possible. There has also been a huge shortage of medical equipment, masks and medicines as demand shoots up. In such a scenario, governments cannot fight this menace alone, and it has been heartening to see how some of the biggest companies in the world have stepped up to donate time, money and knowledge towards fighting this disease.
A notable example of this has come from India, where one of the biggest VIP casino groups of the country, Casino Pride, has stepped in to provide accommodation and food to 25 Georgian nationals, who were left stranded in Goa when the Indian government announced a full lockdown of the country back in March.
Another great example comes from Europe, where some of the leading fashion houses have come in to help with production of various medical products. LVMH, one of the biggest luxury brands in the world, with names like Louis Vitton, BVLGARI, Christian Dior and Givenchy in its stable, has begun to use its perfume production line to manufacture hand sanitiser, which it will deliver free of charge to healthcare authorities in France. BVLGARI is separately using its facilities in Switzerland to manufacture antiseptic gel, while the clothing brand Ralph Lauren has pledged to donate over 130,000 units of clothes of its own brands in certain countries to medical professionals as well as COVID-19 patients. These are all examples of big corporate organizations helping out, but there are smaller entities and organizations which are also making a huge difference in their communities.
In Kenya, the fashion designer David Ochieng has been sewing and distributing face masks free of charge in Nairobi. He is quite popular in the city, with his brand, Lookslike Avido, being known for its street-inspired designs and sense of style. Ochieng has been using the colourful fabrics he uses for his clothes to sew hundreds of masks daily. This has been vital in a city like Nairobi, where there is a chronic shortage of hand sanitizers or surgical masks. While these masks will not be as effective against the virus against the ones used by medical practitioners, Ochieng’s aim is to have people wear them so that they touch their faces less, thereby also reducing the chances of spreading the virus. They can also be cleaned and reused, which makes them far more cost-effective than surgical masks; an important factor in a poor city like Nairobi.
Along with sewing and stitching these masks, Ochieng is also raising awareness, often going deep into villages to deliver his masks and explain its use to the residents, along with the importance of washing their hands and using sanitizers whenever possible. Ochieng’s masks have soared in popularity, so much so that he has made over 1800 masks in a week, and yet is unable to keep up with the demand, with people from as far as Europe clamouring for his creations. What is even more impressive that he takes no payment for these, other than hand sanitizer, which he then again distributes in his neighbourhood of Kibera in Nairobi.
Ochieng is a great example of how even one person can make a huge difference in their community and beyond during these times.