USAID SCORE responds to Covid-19 pandemic | Sunday Observer

USAID SCORE responds to Covid-19 pandemic

12 July, 2020
Women sewing face masks
Women sewing face masks

With the country experiencing an increased need for protective gear and other essential items to contain the spread of Covid-19, rural women from Anuradhapura joined forces to stitch face masks to help their communities fight the pandemic.

When Ireshika Somapala, a mother of two, started a six-month training program in tailoring in February 2020, little did she know that she would soon become part of the response to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

 Reed Aeschliman

Ireshika joined other women from nearby villages to stitch 5,000 masks for the district’s hospitals and their communities. Putting their newly acquired sewing skills to good use, they helped their communities to cintain the spread of Covid-19 during an extended period of curfew.

The USAID-supported Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) initiative, implemented by Global Communities, aided the tailor training, with material and equipment, to start stitching face masks.

The local communities and a private apparel establishment in the area contributed enthusiastically to provide more sewing machines and material while the village funeral society provided the space for the women to carry out the work.

As the women sewed, they shared personal stories and built relationships. Their work is now creating a stronger network between villages.

This collaborative opportunity has given Ireshika and the rest of the women a sense of pride and self-worth. Of additional value, this opportunity has paved the way for financial independence of these women.

They are now producing masks to sell in the local market and earning an income to provide for their families.

The women plan to work together as a business, adding more clothing items to their repertoire, expanding their markets beyond the villages, and opening a small apparel business in the village funeral society building.

“Skills development as well as start-up and scale-up support, especially for women, are major components of USAID’s development partnership.

USAID works with governments, the private sector and local communities to accelerate enterprise-driven development and to help countries achieve self-reliance,” said USAID’s Mission Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Reed Aeschliman.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, SCORE has responded to the needs of rural communities by distributing essential items and protective equipment, refurbishing an isolation unit for Covid-19 patients in a northern hospital and sharing reliable information from the health authorities. SCORE helps local communities work together to uplift their lives and be more resilient in times of uncertainty.