Ateneoville is a small subdivision in Nangka, Marikina housing a number of employees of the Jesuit university in Katipunan—admin, faculty, and staff. Like everyone else in Metro Manila, they are quarantined inside their homes. They are also, like most everyone else going through this quarantine, prone to boredom with having nothing to do for what will be another month as President Duterte has ordered the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon to April 30.
But one resident, Joel Falgui, a teacher at the Ateneo Junior High School, has found a boredom buster for himself and his community. More important, they are offering much needed help in our fight against Covid-19: The families at Ateneoville are DIY-ing face shields at home to be given to the medical frontliners who need them most.
“I received this message from one of my Viber groups with parents. ‘Does anyone want to volunteer to make masks for the Ateneo Med School interns? They are frontliners and need protective equipment,” Falgui recalls. The Viber message went on to say that the raw materials for the shields would be delivered to volunteers’ homes and that by their estimate, two people could make up to 30 face shields a day. “I signed up to volunteer,” Falgui says.
Falgui knew that the most efficient way to contribute was to involve his neighbors. The raw materials were due to be dropped off at his place by the main organizers of the effort, the Ateneo Law Student Council and the Graduate School of Business, and he would have to inform them how many face shields the Ateneoville community could make in order to distribute materials among the other volunteers equitably.
“I was so happy that our neighbors, despite some of them still continuing to work from home, were able to spare time to contribute to the effort. For the initial set of materials, there were 33 families willing to help make at least 50 face shields each,” Falgui says. That amounted to 1,650 face shields.
“Initially we received materials good for 1,250 face shields, which we made in two days and were distributed this way: about 1000 were distributed to I think seven Region 3 hospitals in Pampanga. The remaining 200 + were picked up by Lalamove and delivered to Amang Rodriguez hospital in Marikina. I do not know where the next set of face shields will be delivered, but we are almost done making another 1,000 in two days. In total, 2,200 + face shields were made,” Falgui says
While there were problems encountered along the way, like the shortage of garters, somehow help comes up when it's most needed. "Like now, a neighbor just volunteered to share 20 meters of garter so we can complete our share of DIY face shields," Falgui says.
This is a great effort and, really, something that can save people from the pits of having nothing to do. So maybe it’s time to mobilize the kapitbahay instead of just whiling the days away with idle chismisan, which by the way, is technically not allowed because physical distancing nga di ba?
If you want to contribute to the effort by making face shields at home, here are the contacts: Aris Tacbas 09226663930 / Yen Rase 09778830421. You can also check the groups Protect PH, Ateneo Law SC, and Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health SC on Facebook.