The German public TV channel ARD has been running a series during the coronavirus pandemic called “Everyday heroes.” On Sunday it featured a Syrian family that wanted to give back to the country that took them in, “with their hearts and their hands.”
"My name is Yassim Azar, and I am from Syria. I am 23 years old." Yassim says in the ARD's short film about his work and his family.
The Azar family has been living in Germany for the last five years. Yassim introduces his whole family as they busily sew to help provide care homes, emergency services and hospitals with cloth masks to help protect against transmission of the novel coronavirus.A family affair
A young girl sits at the end of the family row, wielding a huge iron. "That is my little sister," says Yassim, as she smiles seriously for the camera.
His mother sits shyly behind her sewing machine. A neat pink shawl is draped around her shoulders and headscarf. "That is my mother and this is my big sister," continues Yassim.
The older girl smiles warmly as she looks up briefly from her work.
Yassim's big brother and grandmother complete the family circle, also busy with the mask production line.
'We help you willingly'
Strung from his mother's table, upon which her sewing machine sits, is a banner that says "we help you willingly." "We manage to sew between 200 and 300 masks a day," explains Yassim as he expertly flips one mask round to finish off the ear ties on the other side. The sewing machine rat-a-tats constantly through the room as his mother and elder sister feed different colored swatches of material under the needles.
"We start work every day between 8am and 9am, depending on how much time we have, and we keep going until about midnight or 1am," says Yassim.
Yassim's mother was a tailor in Syria, and she taught her sons and daughters how to sew. Yassim is hoping that he can start an apprenticeship in October, if the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic allows. Yassim explains that the family provides masks for private homes, local care homes, emergency services and hospitals. Sometimes they ring round to find out who needs what and deliver them to them; others ring them and come and pick up an order.
On the table in front of them, Yassim's little sister expertly irons the finished masks. Then they are packed and color-coded, piles of yellow, pink, white, gray and flowery-patterned masks sit ready-packed awaiting delivery or collection.
"We are trying to help from our hearts and with our hands," concludes Yassim quietly, before turning back to his work.
The film about Yassim and his family is part of an ARD series entitled "Everyday heroes" featuring people engaged in helping the community respond to the coronavirus pandemic in Germany.