German Swiss International School students give back to the community during Covid-19 pandemic

Dylan Fischer
  • Teens are helping fight coronavirus by 3D printing face shields and sending them to hospitals in need with Project Face Shield
  • Their other programme, Project Care, delivers relief packages of food and medical supplies to needy families in Hong Kong
Dylan Fischer |

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Dylan Fischer wears one of the face shields his group has 3D printed.

The disastrous spread of Covid-19 has highlighted critical flaws in the world’s preparedness to combat infectious diseases. Two crucial shortcomings are the effects of the coronavirus on the underprivileged, and the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff.

I could not watch these problems get worse, which is why I have spent the past month setting up two projects, Project Care and Project Face Shield, with the student-led organisation Community Engagement in Learning and Living (Cell).

Four friends make use of their ‘forced’ free time for a good cause

Cell was established by German Swiss International School students in 2016 with the goal of bridging social gaps in Hong Kong and empowering the underprivileged. Currently, it is promoting these values by providing Covid-19 relief both globally and in Hong Kong. The current team consists of Ruxuan Zhang and Andrea Chang, both 15, and Veer Gokhale, Neel Shah, Adrian Chiu, Malhar Rajpal, Nicole Chiu, Jack Yang and myself, who are all 16.

I wanted to find a way to use my skills to help fight this virus, so I started by delving into Covid-19 forums online. I came across designs for open-source 3D-printed face shields certified by the Czech Republic Ministry of Health and I thought this would be a great place to start. Thus, Cell 2020 took off with a new enterprise: Project Face Shield, which aims to alleviate the global PPE shortage. Due to the unprecedented scale of the virus, a lot of medical staff around the world are having to work without the necessary protective equipment, putting them at risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19.

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At first, we were making face shields using my home-made 3D printer. Although successful, the production rate was limited: with only one printer, I could only make four face shields per day. I emailed the Hong Kong 3D Printing Association asking for their support, and was thrilled when they said they would be able to produce 300 injection-moulded face shields in a week.

So far, Cell has donated more than 250 face shields to hospitals around the world that are facing critical PPE shortages. These include the Government Hospital in Pandavapura, Mandya, in India’s Karnataka state, and the Adventist HealthCare group of hospitals in the US state of Maryland.

We are continuing to identify hospitals that may need protective face shields for their staff by monitoring the situation in different countries and reaching out to hospitals in those areas.

Members of the group from left to right: Nicole Chiu, Adrian Chiu, Veer Gokhale, Dylan Fischer, Jack Yang, Malhar Rajpal, Neel Shah. Not pictured are Andrea Chang and Ruxuan Zhang.

I felt that our team could also contribute to the local community in Hong Kong, so we set up Project Care. Through this initiative, Cell will distribute 200 relief packages to economically disadvantaged families and the elderly through the Wan Chai Kai-fong Welfare Association, as well as to the residents of Pok Fu Lam Village via the Caritas Social Work Services Division. With our whole team having attended GSIS in these two areas, we feel that it is our duty to give back to these communities.

Each relief package includes hand sanitiser, face masks, rice, canned food and more, as well as instant sanitising spray, more than 400 bottles of which were kindly donated by Yata supermarket after I approached them via email. Our first set of packages is due to be distributed on Saturday.

Connecting with the community through exercise

We all have to do our part to protect our communities and we want to remind people to remain vigilant and maintain good hygiene practices. Cell is lucky to have had, and grateful for, the support of so many other organisations.

By working together with the Hong Kong community, we can defeat this virus.

Learn more from the team’s accounts on Instagram and Facebook – @cellhk – and at www.cellhk.wordpress.com