Part of our Together While Apart campaign, #MyMaskMyStory is a collection of personal accounts from individuals with deep ties to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include those who have volunteered, those who have donated, and those who have received.
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun
“I’d always felt a kinship with Tzu Chi; my mother is a certified Tzu Chi volunteer. [However], I didn’t expect that I would have the opportunity to connect with Tzu Chi in the States after so many years.”
“When the pandemic began to spread around the world, everyone was caught by surprise and couldn’t get masks anywhere. Sister Annie Wang [a Tzu Chi volunteer] vowed to make 1,000 cloth masks. It was like a mission impossible when we started with just a few volunteers. But, things changed quickly after 10, 20 more volunteers showed up, and we all started working together; from tailoring, sewing, to quality control, ironing, packaging, and more.”
“I wanted to use my sewing machine at home. Through these nearly two months, I’d stay at my workstation for several hours every day- constantly cutting and constantly sewing. My hands and shoulders even got sore and tired, but there was always something keeping me going: support from my family!”
“My son Brandon was also very enthusiastic in joining the team to pitch in and finish the work. When I told [him] about the distribution of cloth masks, he agreed without hesitation! I thank Brother Tan for inviting Brandon to participate. I could see his excitement, and it was a good opportunity for him to learn and understand the spirit of Tzu Chi.”
“This was Brandon’s first distribution. He seemed a little nervous at first, but he saw that so many people needed help and he expressed that he felt more grateful for what he had. He was so happy that he couldn’t wait to share his experience with his dad when he got home! He said ‘Mom- you keep making cloth masks, I’ll hand them out. We’ll make a great team.’”
“Thanks to Sister Shuchuan Weng [a Tzu Chi volunteer] for reconnecting me with Tzu Chi, for giving me the opportunity to continue cultivating blessings… It was a precious life experience for my children and I.”
Shallin Nesbit studied apparel design in Taiwan and now lives with her family in Virginia. With her fellow volunteers at Tzu Chi’s Greater Washington DC Region, she has helped make both flat and three-dimensional cloth masks for donation through the pandemic. Learn more about this effort here. For the entire #MyMaskMyStory collection and to help ensure production and distribution of PPE may continue, click here.