Local AFS exchange students pitch in to make masks

Alvaro Alonso is an AFS exchange student from Argentina. Like many people around the world, Alvaro and six other AFS students are "sheltering in place" because of COVID-19. They are: Babacar from Senegal, Dmytro from Ukraine, Dorsaf from Morocco, Rodrigo from Paraguay, and Eye and Meeyok from Thailand.

As global citizens, the students decided to do something to help fight this fatal virus. Robbin Lang, a volunteer with the AFS Greater Illinois Team, suggested the students join a campaign to help make 25,000 masks for Hesed House in Aurora and other places in need.

The masks are made with a shop towel, two rubber bands, a paper clip and two zip ties. What made it even easier is that, thanks to donations and volunteers, they don't need to buy the materials. Instead, students can contact one of the organizers and they will send packs that contain material for 25 masks.

As for everyone, COVID-19 has made a huge change in the AFS students' plans for the rest of the year. The AFS team had 35 students who were expecting to stay until the end of June. Because of the pandemic, the exchange was terminated early. As flights could be arranged, many were sent to their home countries.

But instead of taking this as something negative, the AFS students decided to confront this world problem and do whatever they can do to help make it easier for the people around them.

But making masks is not the only way of helping. Alvaro's host family, the McCormicks, organized an Easter Bunny Parade to make the kids happy and add something special to their quarantine. The parade featured a group of cars driving around the neighborhood carrying the Easter Bunny, who was waving at the kids in their houses.

Another idea is writing letters of encouragement to people in nursing homes and senior centers who can't have visitors.

Learn more about AFS at

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