Josepheine Felix Jumin (left), local artisan, trains the HDC-SHC to sew linen face masks.

By Linda Edward

July 3 2020

KOTA KINABALU – There will always be a need for face masks during the pandemic as a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, buying in bulk or buying one is not always an easy thing for some families.

Realizing the plight of the low income families, Human Development Committee in Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish (HDC-SHC) has partnered with Shangri-La Group and Diversey, a leading global hygiene and cleaning company, in their “Linen for Life Face Mask Programme”, to produce reusable face masks made of linen for local communities in need.

Sr Anita James, member of HDC-SHC who is coordinating for the sewing project said the committee is eager when Shangri-La approached them about the Linen for Life Face Mask Programme during the MCO, “We’re pleased we are now able to support the safety and wellbeing of families in need further with a basic form of protection. We are looking at producing thousands of face masks throughout the programme.”

“The HDC-SHC feels that producing your own linen-based face masks is more viable in terms of cost and more environmental-friendly. The cost of one face mask in the market now is RM1.50, and is only for one-time use.

 “The face masks that we are making are washable and thus can be used for longer period of time. We will be distributing them to the migrant and local families who are in need. The average size of a household is 10 people with 6-7 children,” she elaborated.

“We are happy to be collaborating with Diversey and Shangri-La once again after the success of the Soap for Hope initiative in 2017. In recent months, we have been supporting those financially impacted by the pandemic in terms of food aid, which has reached 1,378 vulnerable migrant families during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

The first training for face mask sewing was held June 27 in SHC which was attended by HDC and its counterparts, the Clare Missionaries and the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters.

(From Left) Regina Sulit-Lain, Sr Anita James and Claudina Wong

Also present were Directors of Communications, Regina Sulit-Lain of Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort and Spa in Tuaran and Claudina Wong of Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa. To kick-start the training, they donated the first batch of used and clean, bedsheets, duvet covers and pillowcases to HDC to be repurposed into reusable face masks.

 The training was conducted by Josepheine Felix Jumin, a local artisan who has been producing local batik products since 2016. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme, Shangri-La Rasa Ria has been partnering with Jumin by promoting her local products in the international market.

In Kota Kinabalu, the Shangri-La’s two hotels are looking to contribute up to 18,000 reusable face masks for communities in need during this period, with the support of NGOs and committees such as the HDC-SHC.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have continuously sought out opportunities to help the local communities and to uplift spirits. Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa has provided about 2,000 packed meals to frontliners comprising over 1,500 police, army and medical workers stationed at various locations within the Tuaran District during MCO.

Meanwhile Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa has also responded to an urgent request from the local blood bank to organize a one-day blood donation drive at the resort during the lockdown, which collected 62 pints of blood that replenish the bank’s dwindling stock due to the pandemic.

Regina Sulit said, “Part of our mission is to reduce single-use plastic. During the MCO, we found a lot of used face masks lying waste on the ground. The upcycling of clean, used linen into face masks also provides Shangri-La a meaningful way to help reduce environmental wastage.”