The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) Philippines, Turkey’s developmental cooperation arm, donated on Thursday PHP1.5 million-worth of sewing machines and equipment to support Manila’s livelihood program for workers hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative will support Manila’s livelihood project called “Washable Face Mask Making”, which hires Manila residents affected by the increasing unemployment brought by the global health crisis.
Mustafa Kerimoğlu, TİKA Philippines country director, said this Turkish initiative seeks to further strengthen collaboration between Manila and Ankara amid the pandemic.
“We hope that TİKA will be able to contribute to Manila’s battle against the Covid-19. Through this donation, may the relationship between Turkey and the Philippines continue to flourish,” he told the Philippine News Agency.
TİKA, represented by Kerimoğlu and Turkish Ambassador to Manila Artemiz Sumer, turned over a total of 50 brand-new Singer sewing machines, 10 cutting and edger machines, chairs, and additional sewing tools to Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna.
Sumer underscored that TİKA Philippines had been actively working in the past few years to promote Turkish aid programs across the country.
“In the past five years, TİKA has accomplished numerous socio-economic and aid projects in different regions of the country,” Sumer said. “We know that this important project will help the displaced persons in the city and at the same time provide protection to the citizens who have no means of buying face masks.”
Aside from the latest assistance, TİKA had previously organized a series of medical missions in the Philippine capital.
Sarah Villarama, one of the project’s beneficiaries, said the donated sewing machines allowed Manila City Hall to open more livelihood slots for tailors like her who were badly affected by the lockdowns due to the pandemic.
Since the first community quarantine was imposed in March, Sarah said her income also dropped as stores buying the bedsheets and pillow covers she used to make were forced to close down.
“Nawalan ng mga tindahan na bibili kasi nagsarado sila kaya walang masyadong nagpapatahi sa akin. Wala na ring mapagde-deliveran kaya ang hirap. Noong magpa-apply sila dito, napili akong magtahi (The stores buying my products were forced to close down. We cannot deliver to anyone that’s why it was difficult. When an opening came, I was hired),” she said.
“Makakatulong siya kasi dagdag pang-pinansyal din namin siya. Kapag natapos mo ‘yong 5,000 pieces na masks PHP20,000 po iyon (This would help us because it’s additional income for us. If you finish 5,000 masks that’s already PHP20,000),” she said.
In a day, Sarah can make around 100 masks.
Fernan Bermejo, head of Manila City Hall-Public Employment Service Office, said the “Washable Face Mask Making” program already produced 1 million masks since July 2020, helping over 300 displaced workers, including six jeepney drivers.
Following its success, he said the city hall decided to order another 500,000 masks to hire more tailors and cutters.
“Itong 500,000 face masks, more or less mga 400 ang makikinabang dito so mga totality niya around 700 na (These 500,000 masks will benefit around 400 people, so in total this livelihood program would help some 700 people),” he said in an interview.
“Makakatulong talaga ang donasyon ng TİKA para ‘yong mga mananahi na walang sariling makina, puwede silang tumungo rito sa Unibersidad de Manila at dito sila manahi kasi ang UdM ay nag-allot ng rooms para sa mga mananahi habang walang pasok (This TİKA donation is a big help because it will provide opportunities for tailors who don’t have their own sewing machines. They can come here at the Unibersidad de Manila because the school allotted rooms for them),” he noted. (PNA)