Brazil Seamstresses Make Masks for Vulnerable Populations

Local seamstresses make 20,000 masks for communities of São Paulo and Bahia

Female holding packaged face masks hands one to person in Brazil
Supporting thousands of families in the 31 locations Aldeias Infantis SOS Brasil and Ford Motor Company Fund provided handmade masks to prevent COVID-19 spread. Photo by Reinaldo Canato

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — In partnership with Aldeias Infantis SOS Brasil, Ford Motor Company Fund is helping distribute 20,000 masks made by local seamstresses in Bahia and São Paulo through the Solidary Sewing project. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford Fund has focused its efforts to help make people's lives better through localized, community programming.

The Solidary Sewing project generates income for local seamstresses by paying them above market rate to make the masks. Many of the participating seamstresses have already participated in the Axé Project that has also been supported by the Ford Fund, and by Cesa (Art and Education area of the Santo Antônio Educational Center).

"In a delicate and challenging moment such as the one we're going through, with the Solidary Sewing project we were able to contribute with the generation of income for families that were somehow economically damaged by the pandemic as well as protecting people, ensuring the access to masks which are a fundamental item to reduce the risks of exposure to the virus," says Robert Madke, manager of Corporate Communication and Social Responsibility of Ford Brazil.

Mother and child put on face masks distributed by Ford employee
Solidary Sewing project seamstresses made masks to curtail COVID-19 spread from one person to another person by respiratory droplets. Photo by Reinaldo Canato

Through the Solidary Sewing project, seamstresses work from home and nonprofit partner Aldeias Infantis SOS Brasil delivers materials for mask production while also facilitating pick-up and final delivery. The masks are given to children, the elderly and other vulnerable communities, as this project is as much about health as it is social responsibility.

"The pandemic affects the most vulnerable and this project has made it possible for us to serve a significant number of people who are exposed. Besides the donation of masks, this contact with the communities also allows us to bring awareness to the population about its importance and the correct way to use them, since many of them are unaware of this information," says Mateus Nogueira Ramos, social educator responsible for the project at Aldeias Infantis SOS Brasil.

After learning about the project, Ford Brazil employees volunteered to make masks as well. The Ford volunteers had interest and skills in sewing and used their own fabric, thread, elastic and instructions to produce 10 masks per volunteer.