Dina Qureshi, a 26-year old engineer with Dominion Energy, bought a sewing machine.
For months, it sat unused — until now.
Qureshi, of Ashburn, had never sowed anything. She wanted to learn because it had always been a dream of hers to make herself a dress.
But life got busy.
Two weeks ago, Qureshi heard healthcare providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are lacking personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I decided this is a good opportunity for me to learn how to sew and to help the community,” Qureshi said.
So Qureshi, who has been teleworking from home, went to her friend who taught her the basics of sewing. Then she bought a lot of colorful fabric and began to sew her first mask following the CDC guidelines.
“I got addicted,” said Qureshi.
She’s now made over 100 masks, and she just dropped off 50 of them last Friday at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg.
Not every hospital takes handmade masks, but Qureshi said she found the ones that do by doing a simple online search and reading the hospital’s coronavirus guidelines.
Each mask is sanitized washer and dryer machines, and then individually packed in Ziploc bags. Qureshi said she left the masks at a drop-off zone, across from the main hospital campus.
“I still have a lot of fabric so I will keep on making more,” she said.
The fabric stores were short on elastic as many people in the community to work to make masks to donate to first responses, healthcare workers, and now for themselves. So she made the ties that hold the mask to the ears from ribbons.
“They should be comfortable,” she said.
Each of her masks also has a pocket inside that works similar to a coffee filter, to add an additional layer of protection. The masks are 100% cotton and can be washed and worn over again and ironed.
Qureshi came to the U.S. from Morocco six years ago to get her Masters Degree in Sustainable Energy Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park. She started working at Dominion in 2017.
Qureshi said that back home in Morocco, much like the rest of the world, airports are closed and citizens are quarantined. Still, she is able to use Facetime to connect with friends and family while here in the U.S.
As long as she has fabric and is working from home, she plans to make masks.
“I’m committed to still doing this,” Qureshi said.