In Colorado there is an intersection between what applied anthropologists and Rotarians are doing regarding the COVID-19 crisis. One of the most promising, still unfolding, involves the making of cloth masks. Using contacts with Bangladeshi Rotarians and garment industry officials in that country, we are pursuing the possibility of contracting for cloth mask manufacture. If, for example, a mask can be made there for 50 cents (equivalent) and sold for $2.00 in the United States, “profits” can be returned to the Bangladeshi workers. Challenges include contracting, overseas freighting, sanitary work sites, and profits processing. One option involves donating half the masks produced to Bangladeshis for their own use during the crisis. Another option involves encamped Rohingya refugees as additional mask makers.
Other projects being explored by applied anthropologists and Rotarians in Colorado include the provision of off-site care for the families of University of Colorado Health Sciences Center workers who become infected, and the provision of auxiliary care and services for highest-risk nurses in several local hospitals. In both these instances, “care” might translate to either donated funds or direct volunteer assistance.
On a related note, I just received a call from one of South Sudan’s leaders. The first COVID-19 case has now been confirmed there. This country of approximately 11 million (including those displaced) likely has fewer than 100 ventilators and virtually no capacity to serve those impacted in rural areas.
Peter W. Van Arsdale is an adjunct professor and the director of African Initiatives in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is also the author of “Global Human Rights,” published as part of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology.
Cite as: Van Arsdale, Peter W. 2020. “Anthropologists and Rotarians Do Their Part in Colorado.” Anthropology News website, April 15, 2020. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1378