Community Mask Project
CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS for masks and other products. Read below for ordering information:
O= More Masks, Kids, Other (more mask designs, kids masks, small square mola panels, headbands, bracelets).
Welcome to our community fundraising project! These masks are hand-sewn by Indigenous Kuna women in Panama. Proceeds provide the women with income, as well as contribute to buying food and necessities for other communities in Panama. Scroll down for more info about the project and the Kuna. Each product is labeled with a number and size. For example, “G-56-M” is for mask #56, size medium, from the Geometric category. After reading the information below and perusing the options, please tell me your selections through: 1) Email: email@example.com 2) Website Contact Form
Price: Sales in the United States: $30 + shipping for one mask; $25/each + shipping for 2-9 masks; $20/each + shipping for 10 or more masks. Kids Masks are $15/each + shipping. Other products have pricing info on photo. Shipping depends on how many masks. I will let you know upon ordering. Contact me for masks in Canada, Germany, and Panama. We’ve had masks delivered in Japan, Ethiopia, England, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland!
Payment: 1) Venmo, preferred 2) PayPal 3) GoFundMe Campaign direct donation 4) Zelle. About once a week I send Victor money, and he pays the Kuna women and buys supplies for donations.
Sizing Info: All masks have elastic ear straps, unless noted on photo that there are string ties. Measurements across from edge of fabric (not including ear straps) and edge of fabric top-to-bottom. XS= Approx. 21cm across, Approx. 14cm top-to-bottom. S= 22cm-25cm across, 15cm-17cm top-to-bottom. M= Approx. 26cm across, Approx. 16cm top-to-bottom. L= Not many available. Approx. 29 cm. across, Approx. 19cm top-to-bottom. Kids= Approx. 18cm across, Approx. 11cm top-to-bottom.
Safety Note & Instructions for Care: Keep in mind that these are not N95 or medical-grade masks. They are cotton fabric and may not be appropriate for certain situations. Some of them have spaces to insert your own filter. Please inquire if this is important for your order. There are lots of resources online to educate about different mask materials. These masks are hand-stitched and delicate, and although I have put molas in the washing machine, it is recommended that you hand-wash them and let them air dry. If you do use the washing machine, use the gentle cycle.
This is a grand collaboration with many people from different communities. We share a common goal of helping as many families as possible. Through the sales of these mola face masks hand-sewn by Indigenous Kuna women, as well as donations, we are able to provide the women with income, and buy food bags and other necessities for families in need in Panama. “Normally”, these families earn a large portion (if not, all) of their income from tourism, which has been interrupted by the Pandemic. They are extremely grateful for the opportunity to earn income and provide for their families. It’s such a huge help!
My friend Victor Peretz (who is Kuna), Founder and Diretor of Localinpty Kids Program, is the organizer in Panama. He has a dedicated crew of volunteers who work very hard to purchase and distribute the food bags, and to coordinate the making of these one-of-a-kind masks. In fact, many of them are made by the women in his family. See below for information about the Kuna, and opportunities to visit them in Panama.
Stay Connected & Visit in Panama
We post a lot about this project (and other great things) to our social media accounts. Give us a follow and help to spread the word about this great cause, and other opportunities in Panama. The more that we sell, the more families we can support.
Who Are the Kuna?
The Kuna (also spelled Guna) are one of the larger Indigenous groups of Panama, originally from Colombia, where there are still Kuna communities. They gained semi-autonomy from the Panamanian government in 1925. They have their own territory on the Caribbean side of Panama, called Kuna Yala (formerly known as the San Blas Islands), a beautiful archipelago of more than 365 tropical islands. About 44 of the islands have communities on them, with anywhere from 30 – 2,000 inhabitants. Many Kuna live in and around Panama City, as well as throughout the country and internationally.
What’s a Mola?
In the Kuna dialect, which has no resemblance to Spanish, the word “mola” refers to both clothing in general, as well as what has become a national craft of Panama. Molas are intricately hand-stitched panels that many Kuna women sew onto the front and back of their colorful blouses. It is a sewing technique called reverse applique. The panels are known as molas, as well as the blouse itself. Molas are a symbol of beauty and a way for women to express their culture and creativity. They are very proud of this art form. Many women earn significant income from mola sales. If you’ve been to Panama you’ve definitely seen them!
My Background With the Kuna
Many of my best friends are Kuna. I am commonly referred to as “sia sipu”, which (adoringly) means “white niece”. I have been sea kayak guiding with the Kuna since 2010, with a strong focus on community tourism. I believe strongly in the power of tourism as a means for offering opportunities to local populations, and to provide income for families. Plus, it’s a fantastic and fun way to experience unique cultures. The Kuna are extremely fun and always willing to share their lives with us. Kuna Yala also happens to be an amazing world-class paddling destination. Please visit my Kuna Yala page for more information.
Opportunities with Victor
LocalinPTY Kids Program: I met Victor in 2019 when I went to volunteer with his non-profit, LocalinPTY Kids Program. Based in a neighborhood in Panama City called El Chorrillo, he is dedicated to providing fun and educational opportunities to youth and their families. He is always accepting volunteers, even a single visit, to participate in activities such as preparing healthy meals, art projects, teaching English, teaching yoga and exercise, helping with homework, playing outside, etc… Whether you live in Panama, or are vacationing, volunteering with Victor is a great way to give back to communities.
LocalinPTY Tours: Victor offers guided tours (Spanish and English) in El Chorrillo and Casco Viejo (Old City) neighborhoods in Panama City. These tours offer a fun and unique glimpse into what life is really like there. You’ll meet a lot of locals, and get to do things like dance salsa, play dominoes, drink from coconuts, sample local foods, visit historic sites, practice your Spanish, and get “insider” information on life in Panama, all with a local flare. These tours also offer income to local communities, and are fun for them too! People highly recommend them!