In Naples, Rota, Bahrain, US Navy Fights the Virus One Stitch at a Time


MANAMA, Bahrain (April 6, 2020) Wendy Holmes, an ombudsman at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain, sews a cloth face covering during a family readiness group (FRG) mask-making workshop. NSA Bahrain’s FRG sewed face coverings for personnel and families onboard the installation. NSA Bahrain enables the forward operations and responsiveness of U.S. and allied forces in support of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central’s mission to provide services to the fleet, warfighter and family. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Yarborough/Released)

A worldwide shortage of medical masks prompted America’s foreign bases to begin sewing medical face masks, calling on the often overlooked but necessary skill of sewing.

An increase in demand for wearing face coverings out in public highlights the need for people with this skill to step forward.

The founder of Medical Mask Sewing Effort: Rota Military Community Edition group out of Naval Station Rota, Spain is Andi Reyes, who had been watching the news about a shortage of masks in Rota, Spain and was looking for a way to help.

Many people who need masks do not have the material or the knowledge to sew masks. When Bonnie Matthews, a seamstress in Sigonella found out that everyone would need masks to enter the commissary, post office, NEX (Navy Exchange) she knew there would be a higher demand as there was already a shortage for medical personnel. She had leftover material and started using that to make masks.

In Bahrain, the Family Readiness Group (FRG) hosted a sew-a-thon where volunteers would sew upwards of 12 hours to create masks.

“We love our NSA community,” said Kile Doubravaa, a member of the Bahrain FRG, as quoted by the Navy. “Here we become a family because we are all so far from home, so we take care of each other. The need of double-sided face masks was made very clear to us.”

Those who do not have sewing machines have been hand sewing masks for people. Selina Parker, from NSA Bahrain has been making masks at home as she saw a growing need and many people without the materials or skills to make masks. She created cardboard templates for the masks and used a tutorial from youtube to begin making the masks.

The NAVADMIN released on 4/5/20 requires all individuals on DOD property, installations and facilities to wear cloth face covers when 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained.

For people stationed in the Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central (EURAFCENT) regions you can reach out to your local ombudsman or connect with one of these groups on Facebook:


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