GPK stitches masks and PPE suits for COVID-19 fighters in Nagaland

The Government Polytechnic Kohima staff and students have been engaged in full time task to produce face masks and PPEs. (Morung Photo)
The Government Polytechnic Kohima staff and students have been engaged in full time task to produce face masks and PPEs. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | May 21 

In Nagaland, the fear of a pandemic outbreak and a nationwide lockdown has seen the unpleasant in many, but it has also witnessed the best in some. While some violate lockdown rules and safety measures, there are heroes working daily to keep the community safe. 
The Government Polytechnic Kohima (GPK) is one such institution undertaking a full time task in stitching masks and PPE suits. Initiated by Temjen Imna Along, Minister Higher & Technical Education and Tribal Affairs, the project is a voluntary task undertaken by the staff and students of GPK.


“We have not taken any government money for this initiative. With our own resources we are doing it. Every day they are sitting on the machines and manufacturing and stitching. It is purely voluntary work,” says the Legislator.

In the last one month and more, the GPK has manufactured over 60,000 masks and 200 PPE suits which have been distributed for free in almost every district in Nagaland as well as government agencies such as uniformed personnel and district administration. We have been working since March 28, says Er Keyiekhru Rhutso, Principal, GPK mentioning that the entire staff of the GPK works from 10 am till 5 pm.


Collective effort
A collective effort of the entire Institution, the Principal notes that some of the staff are assigned in cutting and stitching, while some are assigned in disinfecting and sanitizing the finished products. The fabric and required materials are provided by the Minister.

“We usually work during office hours but when there is more work we stay overtime. It stretches till 7:00 pm. The Minister is taking all initiative by importing the fabrics from outside. The best fabric available in the market has been brought in,” says Chubamenla, Senior Lecturer, Fashion Technology Department, GPK.

While the entire staff of the Institution is involved, the stitching and sewing is mostly done by the faculty and students under the Fashion Technology department, GPK. Five students are currently residing at the GPK hostel to work full time. Further, the students residing in Kohima including the alumni are contributing in manufacturing the masks.

Initially, the team had been working on manufacturing only face masks with a target of manufacturing 3000 masks per day. However, materials were also brought in to sew PPE suits which the faculty members of the FT Department has taken charge.

“It is not easy to produce 3000 masks in a day. And with the addition of the PPE suits, it is taking more time,” says the Principal.
Besides stitching a standard size, customised PPEs are also being made.

“It is not just the stitching but cutting also takes a lot of time. We are stitching two types of PPE. One with two layer fabric and the other includes two layers with bubble wraps. Laying of fabric also takes time. Approximately it takes about two hours to complete,” states Chubamenla. 


‘We are trying to help our people’ 
Chubamenla is also a mother to a two year old. Away from home most of the day, her husband usually takes care of their child. He also helps out in collecting finished products or delivering materials to students working from their homes. 

Sorhie, another senior lecturer is a mother to two school going children. “Once we finish our work here, we return home to continue our work in the home front,” says Sorhie.

Besides the shortage of manpower, the senior faculty members also express their worries and apprehensions on the pandemic. 

“All of us are scared. It is not like we are carelessly coming to work and mingling with a lot of people. What overcomes our worry is the realisation that we are trying to help our people,” expresses Chubamenla.

Working at the Institution has its advantages, according to the Senior Lecturer who points out that there is more output. With a collective effort, the production also increases at a quicker pace.

 “If things come to worse, we might choose to work from home. Until then, we are coming forward with a big heart,” says Chubamenla.
While the undertaking is hard work, Er Rhutso says that this is an opportunity to do something for society. “In one way we are proud of ourselves that we can really do something no matter how small for our people,” he adds.