Health

96 year-old uses vintage singer to craft robes for health workers

By Silvia Bejarano

Toledo, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- Filomena Martín, 96, has not let her age stop her from doing everything she can to help healthcare workers combat the pandemic.

From the Castilian town of Sonseca in Toledo, some 98 kilometers south of Madrid, Martín works tirelessly at her sewing machine making protective robes and masks for those working on the front line in Spain.

Martín is from a family of seamstresses. Her grandmother and sister also dedicated themselves to making garments, and she has almost 50 years experience in the sector.

She has already witnessed devastation and was a child during the Spanish Civil War.

“We are doing what we can,” she tells Efe.

“We must help to see if it is worth anything,” she says fully aware there is a scarcity in supplies and protective materials and equipment.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals face the risk of catching Covid-19 daily and many are terrified of getting the respiratory disease.

With her vintage Singer sewing machine, Martín has been working furiously since Saturday to finish robes and create masks that help combat the spread of the virus.

The idea came after she had a conversation with one of her grandchildren’s sister in law, who works as a nurse in a Toledo hospital.

The nurse called her mother to tell her of the distress she was experiencing at not having access to equipment to protect herself and suggested she contact Martín to see if they could help with the shortage, Miguel Rojas Martín, one of Filomena’s sons, tells Efe.

The nurse managed to get a store to open for her and she was able to get hold of two rolls of a plastic-like cloth that would be waterproof and protective.

She split it between her mother -also a dressmaker- and all the women in the Martín family who knew how to sew.

An efficient production line has emerged.

One of Martín’s daughters cuts and sews the robes and the 96 year old finishes them off and puts “the rubber bands on the sleeves and straps on the neck,” she says.

They make 19 robes in a day.

“The author is my daughter,” says Martín, not wanting to detract from the work her daughter seamstress has put into the charity initiative.

Martín’s son Miguel, who runs a textile workshop, uses one of his machines to put the laces on.

Miguel filmed a video of his mother while she was finishing off one of the robes and sent it to a family WhatsApp group with the comment:

“There you have la Bulela (the family nickname for Martín) making robes for the hospital.”

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