Czech Republic – “The Eight Sews Face Masks”: solidarity is charging and the task of us Christians is to be the salt of the earth

05 May 2020

(ANS – Prague) – “It’s unbelievable that people who come to contact with infected patients need our textile face mask because they don’t have anything else.” This is Ilona Tůmová, an assistant in the editorial department of the Salesian publishing house Portál and a representative of the Prague 8 neighborhood. After the declaration of a state of emergency, the Czech Republic was facing a crisis. Neither hospitals nor social service establishments had enough protective equipment. Ilona Tůmová is a parishioner of the Salesian parish of Saint Therese (Prague-Kobylisy). She and a few other parishioners independently started sewing face masks and created a collection point for medical equipment in church. Ilona Tůmová started coordinating this effort and founded an initiative called “The Eight Sews Face Masks” (the name refers to a neighborhood called Prague 8).

“The Eight Sews Face Masks” initiative connected many volunteers. To the collecting point, people started bringing material for sewing face masks or already-made face masks and other protective equipment. Seventy female volunteers were sewing face masks at home. To find out where they needed the collected equipment, Ilona Tůmová called healthcare establishments and volunteers later delivered the material to those who needed it. The initiative connected many people from different fields: parishioners, Scouts, Salesian Family, people from political organizations, and anyone else willing to help.

“I have seen that the most threatened group of people needs help and neither the State nor City Hall has enough flexibility or possibilities to help them. I knew that I could address those in need and because the Kobylisy parish is big I also had enough people willing to help me. My motivation was to help fast, because when you help fast, you help the most,” Ilona Tůmová explains.

Ilona Tůmová describes the urgency of the situation in which the hospital personnel did not have enough protective equipment. “I have a daughter, who works in the Intensive Care Unit at the General Teaching Hospital in Prague. We brought them some face masks the very first day, because they had almost no protective equipment – only one one-time face mask for 12-hour shift. As a thank you, the doctors later sent me a picture with our face masks on. It’s unbelievable that people who come to contact with infected patients need our textile face mask because they don’t have anything else.”

Ilona Tůmová explains what her involvement in the project in “The Eight Sews Face Masks” gave her: “It gave me a strong feeling that civil society exists and works and that I’m surrounded by good and strong people. When there’s trouble, people get together. Solidarity and togetherness are extremely empowering and the task of us Christians is to be there and be the salt of the earth. It confirmed my belief that we don’t have to be afraid of what is to come, because people are great. And our Salesian parish is the natural center of our neighborhood.”

One of the volunteers sewing face masks at home is Lucie Muchová, the daughter of Ilona Tůmová. She is a social worker and nowadays she is on maternity leave. Before the declaration of emergency, she and her family went to their cottage in the country where they have now been for over a month. She decided to fill her free time with voluntary help and sewed around one hundred face masks. This is what she says: “I felt that I must help, and sewing was one of the ways I could help fight the threat. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it really was that necessary, but during the first week I understood that it makes sense and it is needed.”

Lucie Muchová describes the reactions she saw: “We supported each other in sewing. We saw that there is a lack of face masks and other protective equipment. Doctors and nurses were unbelievably grateful, and we got a lot of support from the citizens, too. Our main driving force was solidarity and mutual help.”

Lucie Muchová explains what volunteering gave her: “We left Prague, which is in the center of the main activity. Here in the country, you wouldn’t even notice that there is some emergency situation going on. The voluntary help gave me a good feeling, a feeling that I could do something to help solving the emergency, even from afar.”

They sewed 7,700 face masks and connected around one hundred volunteers. Each of them sewed on average 70 face masks, although the most active volunteer managed to sew 670 of them. Behind their work, there is a lot of time, energy, private finances, material but also broken sewing machines. All that is a proof that during those three weeks, “The Eight Sews Face Masks” initiative has managed to do a massive amount of work.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".