Solidarity through volunteering—The Maskateers


My name is Rabab Wereda, I am a member of the recently formed volunteer driven group known as “The Maskateers”; an initiative that brings together a few members of the community to produce face masks to help protect people from contracting coronavirus. It all started off with a virtual meeting, and even though we have been working together for around two months now, most of us have not met in person yet. We; however, quickly bonded through this initiative. We don’t only share a common hobby and a desire to help; we also enjoy having a laugh and exchanging jokes during our Zoom calls to motivate each other to keep going. So far, we have stitched 300 meters of fabric while weaving new friendships.

KAUST is a microcosm of the world, which is reflected in our diverse group of over 20 volunteers from 16 countries. Our most junior maskateer is five-year-old Tiberius Langley, aka “Tiger,” and our most senior is Mrs. Lenita Queiroz, a visiting mother who is 77 years old. We range from founders to recent community members who have just joined KAUST in March 2020! Also, household members got engaged with four spouses, two nannies and 12 children helping.

Even though none of us are professional seamstresses, nor do we have industrial sewing machines, the masks were made with great love and care. We are all aware that wearing face coverings is an extra precaution to help slow the spread of infection, and now they are required in many public spaces. We, Maskateers, wanted to show our love for the community in a way that embodies the message: “We’re all in this together. I protect you. You protect me. We all protect each other.”

We coordinated with Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Community Life and Procurement on purchasing the supplies needed to make masks and distributing them. We followed a blind pickup/drop-off system that naturally formed itself, as everyone was eager to do their part with active participation in deliveries. Many volunteers made more masks than I did, and many shared ideas on our chat group and virtual meetings. We all supported each other and proudly and humbly wear the badge of “COVID-19 Mask Maker”. It gives us great pleasure to be able to serve the community and be part of not only a community, but also a global effort to help fight the pandemic.

KAUST is the first home that my husband and I have known together, and as such it holds a special place in our hearts. We feel well protected, sheltered and catered for behind the University’s gates. Over the years, it has been described as the gift that keeps giving. As founders, we attest to this description as being true ever since its inauguration to date. We witnessed and continue to receive a lot of care from KAUST’s generosity and Saudi Arabia at large. When KAUST calls for a contribution, you do whatever you can to stand in solidarity with and for the community.

Be safe everyone, and let’s protect one another.

The Maskateers team:

Mask Makers:

Aulia Indah, Begimai Adilbekova, Betsy Ryan, Chandru Anantharaman, Gordana Rauski, Gulzhan Tumenbayeva, Hafsa Tajammal, Ingrid McCormack, Jamila Yorova, Katie Hoffman, Konnie Langley, Lenita Queiroz, Maria Nava, Mary Fowler, Monica Chan, Nadia Bashir, Nora Alshibani, Nouf Alshamrani, Rabab Wereda, Robyn Palescandolo, Sheri Tibbit, Wendy Foreman

Admin/Departmental Support:

Nicki Talbot (CL), Nouf Alsaleh (HSE)


  1. Wow this is amazing Rabab and all the volunteers !!
    We are so grateful having such an amazing members in the community

  2. Thank you all for your kind words, it was a wonderful experience for us that gave us a sense of purpose and a feeling of solidarity with the community. We are happy that our efforts and masks are appreciated, keep smiling and stay safe.
    The Maskateers. x