Masks Make Economic Impact

Thanks to a small group of generous donors, Elena’s family is working furiously so they can feed everyone in their family of 11—at least for now. That wasn’t always the case for this family and it still isn’t the norm for everyone in Cozumel. 

Elena at the sewing machine

Elena recently shifted the focus of her home-based sewing business to make beautifully embroidered cubrebocas (face masks). But even though wearing masks is required in Cozumel, few people can afford food, let alone the purchase of anything else. So Friends of Cozumel volunteers helped widen her market. They told her story to some kind hearted folks willing to purchase a mask. Elena’s business has ramped up and now her entire family helps make masks to keep hunger at bay. They’ve even been able to purchase more fabric to keep their business going.

Why has hunger become one of the most pressing issues in this beautiful vacation destination?

It’s because Cozumel’s economy is dependent on tourism. In fact, the island typically welcomes dozens of cruise ships with up to 80,000 visitors each week in high season. But the visitors stopped coming with the onset of the pandemic. Jobs were lost and people soon grew desperate for food. 

Several community kitchens were started by local volunteers, offering as much food as their donations could buy. One of those efforts is sponsored by Friends of Cozumel—the community kitchen based in Vida Abundante Church. They provide a meal to up to 200 people three days a week. Friends of Cozumel also provides despensas for families in crisis—boxes of essential food such as rice, beans, pasta and soup. In some cases, mothers cannot produce enough milk to nurse their babies due to their own meager diet, so cans of formula powder are also provided by Friends of Cozumel. Elena’s family has three babies that require formula.

The recent effort to sell Elena’s masks also stimulated enough additional donations to Friends of Cozumel to provide about 600 meals at the Vida Abundante community kitchen, 43 despensa boxes—each providing enough for a family of four to have one meal a day for a week, and three large cans of formula for hungry babies.

The moral of this story? Your one small act of kindness matters. So wear your mask, and reach out your sanitized hand to help someone else. Whether it’s in your own community or in one you hope to visit one day, you will make a difference. 

– Phyllis from Nebraska

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