Bokja, a designer in Beirut, specializes in the production of upholstered furniture made from old fabrics, but the studio staff is now dedicated to sewing colorful silk masks to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The proceeds from the masks, which cost about 35 dollars, are given to nurses on the Lebanese front to fight a disease that has exacerbated the misery in a country in economic crisis.

I saw a crying nurse at Rafik Hariri Hospital on TV… …and we decided that part of the profits would go to her, said co-founder Huda Barudi.

The company Barudi is one of the few that has transformed the production of objects such as furniture and clothing into masks. She said the nurses were even booked.

In Bokja, a studio specialized in the production of upholstered furniture, on the 7th. May 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon, a worker who wears silk masks and now dedicates himself to sewing colorful silk masks. The picture was taken on the 7th. May 2020. Reuters/Azakir sparkling

They’re helping to boost the troops’ morale, Mr. Barudi said.

Since mid-March, Lebanon has been under siege to contain an epidemic that infected 859 people and killed 26. The authorities warn of a new wave after the number of cases has risen sharply in recent days, as the government has eased some restrictions and reopened shops.

Safety rules in supermarkets, pharmacies and shops require wearing masks.

Face masks are a sad thing, but when we gave them this shape and everyone is different, it brought us back to Bokja’s ideology of finding beauty in ugliness, said Maria Hibri, Bokja’s second founder.

Despite the closure of the luxury shop and workshop, the employees were given sewing machines and textiles for working from home.

The inhabitants of Beirut, like Mustafa Ali, greeted the colourful masks. According to him, dealers and pharmacies increased the price of medical masks, so he was looking for a reusable option. I wear a colour that suits my mood, he says through a green mask.

Other companies have also started making masks – a rare opportunity if the pandemic hits a collapsing economy with a hammer blow. The national currency has collapsed and unemployment, inflation and poverty have risen sharply since last year.

Atelier Bokja, specialized in the production of upholstered furniture, sews 7. May 2020 in Beirut (Lebanon): colourful silk masks on rolls of yarn. The picture was taken on the 7th. May 2020. Reuters/Azakir sparkling

Eric Mathieu Ritter, founder of the bicycle clothing company Emergency Room, has started sewing face masks for his family.

People started asking about them and I started selling them, he said. Reaction was positive for prints, motive. They’re smart. It gave people a unique feeling.

Ritter said he was trying to make the prices of the masks affordable, but still enough to pay his employees. They are sold for about $5 at a parallel market price.

You should be able to live off this work, he said.

($1 = 1,505,7000 LVL)

(This story was published by a telegraphic agency without the text being changed. Only the title has been changed).

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