A group of local crochet artists and seamstresses have joined forces with a head nurse at Portimão Hospital to sew protective equipment, such as caps and shoe covers, for health care workers during these trying times.
The idea was pitched by head nurse Conceição Cruz, 56, to Susana Espírito Santo, 53, a member of the ‘Agulhas Marafadas’ group.
Every morning, Conceição delivers boxes and bags filled with items donated by the hospital – including cotton fabric, non-woven fabric and elastics – to the group’s members who use their skills to turn them into surgical caps, shoe covers, hoods and other protective equipment.
It is a daily routine that started on Saturday, March 21 and will continue for as long as nurses and doctors need this vital protective gear.
Susana Espírito Santo is helped by her 78-year-old mother and her 24-year-old daughter, with the eldest members of the family manning the sewing machines and the youngest in charge of cutting the materials. They work for over eight hours a day.
“It isn’t easy to be home all day, so it is good that this challenge came along. As I have always had materials available, I haven’t had much down time,” she said.
Nine other members of the ‘Agulhas Marafadas’ group – which before the pandemic would meet at cafés to talk and learn from each other – are also pitching in and helping as they can.
They had already worked together with Conceição Cruz in the past to make clothes for children in Africa as part of the Little Dress for Africa initiative, which was a “success”.
“More than a job, this is a mission that was given to us due to the shortage of individual protection kits at that hospital,” Susana told Barlavento newspaper.
“We cannot sew masks as they require a type of fabric that hasn’t been easy to find,” she said, adding that making masks without this fabric would only provide a “false sense of safety”.
So far, Susana’s family alone has produced 40 caps and 40 visors for the Santa Casa da Misericórdia to protect its staff during home care visits, with another 200 visors and 130 caps already ordered by the institution, as well as 89 caps and 366 protective hoods for Portimão Hospital.
Conceição Cruz is in charge of delivering the equipment to her colleagues at the hospital, handing out the first protective cap for free and charging €2 for the second, as not all the needed materials are provided by the hospital.
Her co-workers say that she “should charge more, but the idea isn’t to make money”.
“No country is ready for something like this”
Nurse Conceição Cruz provided a glimpse of what life is like for those who go to work, every day, not knowing what to expect.
“Every day, I feel like I’m heading towards a tsunami. I feel fear, anguish and distress for being at the frontline,” she told the paper.
“When we went on strike to ask for better working conditions, many called us criminals. But today, here we are, doing all we can … leaving our children and families at home, and unable to be close to them because we are scared (of infecting them).
“Everyone has a part to play, which is to stay at home. However, I still see many people on the streets,” she said, urging everyone to, individually, do what they can to “stop the enemy”.
Original article written by João Chambino for Barlavento newspaper.