15-year-old child invents deaf-friendly face masks
Noticing that surrounded people are facing trouble during the Covid-19 pandemic, two siblings led by a 15-year-old boy, Mark Assavaniwej, together with his 10-year-old sister, Proud Assavaniwej, have come up with an idea to make homemade face masks to support healthcare workers and people in need. Mark took care of the design and pattern while Proud was responsible for sewing. It can be said that this is their first experience using a sewing machine.
Their idea took place when, one day, Proud and Mark saw from the news that people with disabilities (especially those deaf and mute) had been encountering difficulties during this pandemic. They, therefore, decided to create masks particularly designed for the disabled by using EVA plastic, which is eco-friendly and biodegradable, to cover a tiny hole at the center of the mask. This is to ensure that the mask will not obstruct their mouths and lips. Physically, this group of people is not capable of speaking or uttering their voice, but they will only communicate with each other by reading their lips and using hands as symbolic gestures.
The first community these two siblings visited was the deaf community under the bridge in Rama 9 area. There are a total of 90 deaf people from 180 residents. Most of these people are maids, gardeners, garbage men, etc. and they are currently affected by the COVID-19 since they could not continue their jobs as usual. This has taken a significant toll on their income — they could only rely on government allowance to sustain their livelihood.
Mark said that this group of the deaf has never been provided with this kind of support before and this has truly made his day. “We are delighted to have a chance to provide community service. We are honored to be the very first group of people to support and provide relief to people with disabilities, especially those affected by the current situation, and help them live better lives,” Mark said.
Mark is currently in Grade 9 at Tabor Academy School, Massachusetts, USA. He has just come back to Thailand at the end of March, which was the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic cases in New York and Boston area were rapidly increasing in number. “It was a nightmare there, with the long line-up and empty shelves in supermarkets.” This situation has inspired him to be a volunteer to help other people. He doesn’t want to see a crisis like in the USA happen to his beloved Thailand.
The below link is the supportive song “You raise me up” covered by Proud to the heroes of coronavirus crisis: Health care workers and volunteer on the frontline. https://youtu.be/ZWQ5-C1XAOA