CARING citizens in the Alicante neighbourhoods of Elda and Petrer are using their spare time during lock-down to make hospitals’ surgical masks for free.

With the Coronavirus social distancing restrictions affecting everyone, many stuck at home are giving their time and using their skills to help local health authorities in the fight against Coronavirus.

Elda Seamstress 2
HARD AT WORK: Maria Luisa del Amo

The two Costa Blanca municipalities both have a strong tradition in the haberdashery and leather industries, and the Mayor of Petrer, Irene Navarro, has recognised the solidarity and efforts of those who managed to sew over 3,500 masks in one weekend.

Among them is a family of ‘aparadoras’ (shoe-makers) whose efforts have gone viral, thanks to their photographer son, Juan Membrive.

Local hospitals had given the material needed to make masks, and Juan set about recording images of his mother and others making the masks in their home workshop.

Elda Petrer
ELDA & PETRER: 45km from Alicante

After they’d made 160 masks on the first day, neighbouring families joined in and 3,500 were made over a weekend.

“You can make a unit in two or three minutes with a little skill,” says mother Maria Luisa del Amo, after watching a tutorial online.

Son, Juan, owns the family footwear business, where a team of eight normally only make shoes for the Moors and Christians festivals.

Maria blames Juan for the publicity, “He took photos of us, and when he uploaded them to social networks, we immediately went viral.”

Similarly conscientious people across Spain contacted the family, asking how the masks can be made so quickly.

Juan lamented that, “people are doing more than the big companies” and asked why manufacturers don’t do the same.

Elda Seamstress
THOUANDS MADE: But “millions” could be made by manufacturers

He told La Vanguardia, “with their machines they take 20 seconds to make a mask; in three days they could manufacture 80 million – but in the end, it is the townspeople who help.”

On Friday, Mayor Navarro admitted, “several companies have contacted us to collaborate.”

Material is already being provided by one local textile firm, with an Elda company offering a service to sterilise up to 8,000 units in a matter of hours.

She concluded by officially recognising the ‘aparadoras’, “who have been so supportive, a group that has spent years claiming the dignity of their trade and the recognition of their labour rights, since many work in precarious conditions, with endless working hours.”

IMAGES: Juan Membrive

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