Refugee women create custom masks for Buffalo all girls school, for when they return to the classroom

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart is ready to welcome back students to the classroom five days a week.

Barbara Rooney, the director of athletics and student life, showed News 4’s Kelsey Anderson around the school to look at some of the changes in place. Rooney is also the COVID coordinator at the school and said they bought self-cleaning surfaces to put around the building, along with specialized cleaning materials for a deep-clean every night. Classrooms are set up to be socially distanced and Plexiglas was in the process of getting installed in some areas.

“There’s quite a bit of work that’s been going on the whole summer to get us ready,” Rooney said.

And of course masks will be required.

“Reusable or disposable masks are fine, we’re just asking them not to wear a bandanna or a gaiter, because the data coming out about that is not as positive as a cloth mask.”

The school is allowing the girls to wear a variety of masks, but also wanted to give them the opportunity to show some school spirit with their face covering. So, with the help of a local company called The Buffalo’s Women’s Consortium, the school was put in contact with Sew REDI to create custom masks.

“I’m happy with sewing.” Judith Hlei said, a Sew REDI member.

Judith and her friend Esther Pam have been sewing for the non-profit for two years now. Sew REDI teaches refugee women how to sew, and gives them a sewing machine free of charge once they finish training. The women, who have fled their home countries for a better life here, create bags, table clothes, face masks and more. And they’re given a big cut of the profit, to help provide for their families.

“They make me happy,” Hlei said. “We learn everything and they pay money so we can help our family.”

“We enjoy this, yeah,” Pam said.

Women supporting women. Judith and Esther are ‘Sew REDI’ to make as many custom masks as the all-girls school needs.

The masks are available to purchase here.

For more information about Sew Redi, click here.

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