News Story

French Polynesian Women Mask Their Faces, Not Their Hearts

Increase in COVID-19 cases and mandatory mask wearing at start of school year inspire volunteers to lend a hand

To meet an urgent need for protective masks for young adults returning to school in Punaauia, French Polynesia, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently made 2,100 reusable cloth masks and donated them to a local school.

The equipment was delivered to the school three days before the wearing of masks was made compulsory in schools for staff and young people over the age of 11.


With the opening of the country's borders on 15 July, Punaauia Latter-day Saint leaders wanted to make a contribution to the community. They decided to supply young students in their local junior high school with masks.

Local Church leader, Steeve Tchan, said, “When the Mayor of Punaauia contacted us for our assistance, the Relief Society [the Church's organisation for women] came back to us with a challenge, 'On your masks, get set, go!'"

He added, "Their message was crystal clear: 'The second wave of COVID-19 is here! Let’s protect our children!'"

According to Blandine Sangue, a Church women's leader, "Local Latter-day Saint women united their talents to protect youth from exposure to COVID-19."

"The challenge for all our volunteers was to make the delivery deadline before the start of the school year," she said.

"Mission accomplished! They were so happy to be doing something that would directly benefit the school.”

The handoff was made on Saturday 8 August 2020 at the Lotus Ward (congregation) Chapel in Punaauia.

Mr. Jean-Pierre Ching, Deputy Mayor, thanked the Church for this initiative.

“The students will really need them for the start of the school year, because it is important to wear masks with the confirmation of new positive cases. I especially congratulate the mothers for their organisation, their time and their talents invested in this project," Mr. Ching said.

He continued: "I have always appreciated the actions of the Church in the community and I can assure you, you can count on the support of the municipality in other projects."

Dean Sylvie Vedelago, Principal of the school, said: “I want to thank the Church and the leaders who cared for the children. These masks come at the right time."

After 77 cases in three days, the Minister of Education imposed the compulsory wearing of masks in schools.

The Principal gave two masks to each student at the start of the school year, and warmly thanked the volunteers.

"I thank The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for this beautiful action as these masks were prepared with love."

Dolorès Vanaa, stake Relief Society coordinator, said: “It was a pleasure to give these masks to the students. This challenging project brought more unity, love and joy."

Russell M. Nelson, worldwide President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently said: “We have learned that fear, isolation and loss can be mitigated by immersing ourselves in the service of others."

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