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Taiwan prisoners stitching mask and join the fight against coronavirus

Behind the barbed wire-topped fences of Taipei Prison, a small group of inmates are hunched over clacking sewing machines, working overtime to churn out face masks amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Usually the men would be making prison uniforms in the bright-lit sewing factory in the city of Taoyuan.

But after the coronavirus spread to Taiwan they switched to making masks, putting together some 52,000 face coverings since mid-February. Sporting a grey face mask himself, a 50-year-old inmate surnamed Yuh said he was keeping his family close to heart as he worked.

"When they came to see me, they said it was very difficult to buy face mask out there. I said to them 'Daddy is making face masks here, and that maybe you will have the benefit and the opportunity to use it'," he told AFP.

"Every time I sew face masks, I think to myself that it can bring some security to my family."

Yuh is currently ten years into a 23-year sentence for possession of drugs and firearms.

"This little face mask not only lets us contribute to society, it also gives us self-esteem," he said.

The inmates - who have volunteered for the job - work quickly with machines they have clearly come to know well.

After stitching the fabric with the sewing machines, they carefully trim the masks with small scissors before ironing and packaging them. Taiwan's prisons routinely employ prisoners to make products from food to garments and soaps.

The programmes are designed to teach inmates practical skills as well as raise funds for victim compensation and the improvement of facilities.

The masks are sold for around NT$25 (US$0.83) each and the inmates are paid a small wage which they can spend within the prison.

(Source: AFP News)


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