Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Extraordinary Team Effort In Uncertain Times

--by miatagano, posted Apr 28, 2020
Last week a doctor friend of ours was going with a team to Navajo Nation to help those who are sick with the coronavirus. COVID-19 is ripping through the Navajo Nation, infecting and killing people at rates that are above U.S. averages. Located across three states, the Navajo population is already vulnerable, with a high prevalence of underlying disease, a lack of infrastructure, and limited access to care and supplies. The day before they were to leave, I saw a post on Nextdoor - a note from a woman saying "Hello - My son's robotics team is making face shields that can help frontline staff in the hospitals. They wish to donate 100 of them for free..." Such generosity of spirit!

Coincidentally, I had just spoken with another doctor friend on the east coast who is also working on the front lines – he was sharing how important the shields are for protection – not only lengthens the life of the face mask but literally shields the face, eyes, etc from the spattering of infected body fluids. We were able to get donations of face masks for the team but I had not even thought about face shields or their importance!

I wrote to the mother, Jing and told her of the medical team leaving in the morning. Her son Derek's robotics team had already donated what they had – Still, they would be honored to help these brave doctors and workers. The team then rallied together, working through the night, to 3d print 30-shields at their homes in less than 24 hours! They even put them in a box with a heart sign acknowledging the medical team it was going to! Because of their selfless effort, we were able to pick up the shields in the morning and bring to the medical team before they boarded the plane!

I wanted to be able to thank the whole team face-to-face so we set up an online video meeting.

I was so excited to get to meet the 6 members of DRY ICE who, all 13-14 years old, according to their bio are "a San Francisco Bay Area-based robotics team dedicated to exploring engineering and robotics. (They) participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics competition, actively representing their name in design, software, communication, and more." DRYICE is an acronym for: Don’t Repeat Yourself and Innovative Creating Engineering.”

What a joy to meet the team – an incredible mix of 8th and 9th graders!
Enthusiastic helper Helena Fu is not only the Captain but the originator of the face shield idea, charismatic and proactive. Hard-working and determined Derek Zhang was described as a great team member but also as a "Cool Cat". Joyful Jermaine Lei provides great ideas for the future and is one who is not afraid to try new things. Unique and “chill” Ming Wang is known for his persistence - if he can't do something, he keeps trying until he does it. Eloquent Aryah Oztanir is said to have the most knowledge on the team of a variety of hardware, physics, mechanisms, etc. I looked around and saw Aryah humbly shaking his head no as others nodded yes. Last but not least, Jovial Jake Xiang considered the funniest person on the team (lots of head nods) enjoys improving his skills and always tries to jump in to see what he can learn.

I was so moved by their genuine humility and the goodwill in the "room" - such authentic responses and empathetic individuals. This is actually part of their culture. For instance, the robotics team is actually encouraged to give back to the community, to do outreach (in fact, after our meeting, the team was working online with a younger group wanting to learn about CAD (Computer Aided Designs) ) but this was the first time to make masks and donate to medical workers.

Captain Helena shared how stressful it was to watch the news and see how so many medical workers didn’t have adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) and saw how many were struggling. Members of the team had witnessed how other 3D printing groups were printing various things like ear-savers and Prusa face shields. They knew they could help in a similar way. Thinking about best protections for hospitals, they looked through and test printed various versions of face shields and found NIH clinically tested and recommended 3D print design specifically for Covid19 relief.

All emphasized that this is truly a team effort and not only the 6 of them – so many contribute whether their parents who help with support, communication, transport; the donors who help with funding for the printing resources such as the printers and the filament; masks, and of course, their robotics coach who not only helps with technical issues but supports their ideas and visions.

One thing that has been especially surprising for the team besides all the donors who have come forward so far to contribute has been the amount of support they have received from the community including extended family in other countries. One member spoke of a relative who didn't necessarily have much money to donate but who still gave what she could because she wanted to support their efforts. Another spoke of the parents coming together to share their story - beautiful support. There is the sense that as they show up, others show up too; a ripple effect of goodness.

It is amazing to find that the team has already donated 400+ shields; their goal is to produce 1500 total face shields along with donating 1000 N-95 face masks. And, when the shields/masks are no longer needed, they will find other ways to help the community- Superheroes indeed. Thank you, Team!
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Readers Comments

Rita wrote: Such a hopeful and well written story of young heroic people!
smileswithhope wrote: Wow, amazing to read this! So inspired, thank you. :)
Barbara Alaimo wrote: Way to go super heros. Keep the creative juices and compassion going. You matter.
Mary T wrote: You are fantastic! Thanks for letting your heart lead you to this great act of kindness. Way to go!
Rajni wrote: Hats off to the young angels. They are the shining examples of future citizens. May their efforts inspire many more all over the world. When there is a will, there is a will. Thanks for sharing this extra ordinary story that shows humanity is alive and live in the hearts of many.
Leslie Sheridan wrote: Your share button on this is not working!
Joel Davidson wrote: What an honor to be alive at the same time as these dedicated souls. Than you and them.
Mish wrote: Wow. Got the chills reading this. Totally beautiful, mia! Thank for spreading the word about these amazing “helpers”. Bless them & all those they served. 🙏

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