Mobilising multi-ethnic support in the face of a common enemy: Youth NGO produced 15,000 face shields for frontline workers
An NGO in Kosovo mobilised youth from different communities to produce 15,000 face shields in just three days, to help safeguard frontline workers in a global shortage period.
NGO LINK, supported by UNMIK, brought together a multi-ethnic rapid-response team of 20 volunteers at their North Mitrovica premises in November to assemble the protective gear.
Striving for zero waste, the NGO cooperated with a start-up called 3D Cycle to process all unused plastic remains for further use, such as creating filaments needed to produce additional face shields.
Protecting the protectors
In December, LINK distributed the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to healthcare institutions and public utility services on the front line of dealing with the pandemic across Kosovo.
Kosovo Deputy Minister of Health Pjetër Ndou received 12,500 face shields from the NGO for further distribution to health workers across Kosovo.
“Every assistance that comes to the Ministry of Health is welcome,” Ndou said. “We are committed to delivering all these donations rationally and helping all those who need help.”
In addition to supporting Kosovo’s Ministry of Health, LINK delivered 1,500 face shields to the Hospital in North Mitrovica and other health institutions under the administration of the Serbian Ministry of Health, 300 to the public hospital in South Mitrovica, 250 to the public hospital in Kamenicë/Kamenica municipality, 50 to the health centre in Zubin Potok municipality, and the remaining 400 to police stations and local enterprises in the Mitrovica region.
Common solutions for common problems
The UNMIK-supported and LINK-operated Mitrovica Innovation Centre’s activities are regularly multi-ethnic, but the opportunity to support COVID-19 relief, in particular, brought some new faces into the fold.
“Our idea was that the volunteers from different ethnic backgrounds communicate with each other through the process of assembling the shields,” Marko Rakić, LINK’s Executive Director, said. “That is, to understand that together they can work to solve common problems.”
Marija, 20, a volunteer from North Mitrovica found the experience rewarding, helping her get to know more about other communities and find new friends. “I’m so glad that I now have Albanian friends in North Mitrovica who I can hang out with. I’ve been a member of different NGOs, but most of them didn’t provide me with real opportunity to meet people from other communities,” Marija said.
Avdije, 21, a volunteer from South Mitrovica also had a positive experience and said meeting people from other communities helped her notice the similarities between their communities and overcome some of her prejudices.
This is not the first time LINK has produced and distributed face shields to support healthcare workers. In March 2019, the NGO produced and delivered 450 reusable shields at short notice, using 3D printers to make the much-needed PPEs.
“Our multi-ethnic work during the pandemic has underscored what is common to all the young volunteers who responded to LINK’s call — a desire to build stronger communities and leave the world better than they found it,” LINK’s Executive Director said.