Hungary, like many other countries in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, was struggling to source and supply proper personal protective equipment for healthcare and other community-oriented organizations in order to make it safe for citizens to utilize their services. As self-described “hobby tailors,” both Agnes and Eszter were drawn to the idea of producing masks, but knew they needed a partner to help them scale production to make a significant impact for their community.
Through a connection of Eszter’s, the pair reached out to the Salva Vita Foundation, an NGO based in Budapest, Hungary whose Shop with Heart initiative aims to employ people with disabilities. The organization was excited to help and immediately committed to producing 1,000 masks between two partner workshops based in Debrecen, the Towards Light Foundation and the Cornflower Foundation.
“Shop with Heart prioritizes giving people an opportunity to live a full and meaningful life by empowering them to contribute to society, which is a cause near and dear to my heart,” said Eszter. “By working with Shop with Heart to manufacture these masks, EPAM was able to support individuals who are eager to contribute but are often overlooked.”
Agnes and Eszter quickly provided the design for the organization and started to source the appropriate materials from local textile manufacturers.
“Truthfully, contacting these groups required me to take a big step outside of my comfort zone,” said Eszter. “Sewing has really just been a hobby for me, so learning about the details of the textile industry was a learning curve that required me to be resourceful and learn on-the-go – something my time in the tech industry has prepared me well for.”
While Eszter got under way with the manufacturing piece of the project, Agnes started identifying appropriate places to distribute the masks.
“At that time, healthcare organizations were starting to get an influx of masks, but everyone quickly realized that everyone would need masks,” said Agnes. “That’s why we started reaching out to people within our own network, like our education partners, to see if they needed masks.”
Ultimately, the team found enthusiastic recipients in Abacusan Studio, Menhely Foundation and the Matrix Foundation, EPAM’s CSR partners who support both adults and children. In working with these organizations, the team realized they had one more challenge to navigate: mask size. They determined that Shop with Heart would have to create two masks, one for kids and one for adults.
In the end, EPAM Hungary helped Shop with Heart deliver 355 masks for children and 410 for adults to these organizations, enabling the populations they serve to stay safe and healthy.
“In the IT sector, we are very privileged to have access to innovative services and products like the GENTL mask,” said Eszter. “We have a responsibility—as a company and as individuals—to give back to our communities that have supported us in our growth, as well as strengthen the relationships we have with partners in our CSR network.”
EPAM Hungary’s work is the latest example of how EPAM applies its capability to provide end-to-end solutions to its CSR initiatives, ultimately creating a stronger, safer and healthier community.
Learn more about EPAM’s other COVID-19-related initiatives here.