We (our names are Weimen and Jessica Li) are recent graduates of Princeton University who respectively studied electrical engineering and chemistry. We are currently employed in the energy industry in Houston, Texas. Outside of our day jobs, our passion is to tackle actionable, pressing challenges confronting our communities in a meaningful way. This passion has taken us to create scholarships for college-bound students, build free mass-communication software tools for non-profits, and help high-school age aspiring engineers construct medical devices and diagnostic tools. During the COVID19 crisis, we hope to bring our passion to bridge gaps in supply chains of products most critical to containment, beginning with one mask at a time.
Care starts small; care knows no boundaries
The “smiling gnome” is a nickname that Weimen and I gave my late father, Bing Li. Indeed, optimism is a choice, one that most would find impossible to make especially in the face of crushing adversity. But my father embraced a type of optimism that filled his life with grit, grace, and gratitude at every turn, one that defined his course when he immigrated to the United States at age 40, pushed into the tides of the 2008 recession, and even when he was told, in June of 2019, that he had stage IV(C) colon cancer, a terminal disease at its most extensive form with no cure, and that he had two weeks to live.
My father left us on January 29th, 2020 at 3:30AM. I watched as he breathed his last, his heart rate on the monitor slowing down to zero, his eyelids closing in peace.
As I stepped out of the ICU at MD Anderson with a cartload of white paper bags stuffed with all his clothes, everything flashed before my eyes – the wheelchairs by the emergency center, the linear accelerator in the basement, the Christmas trees on the in-patient floors, all that defined my past eight months as a primary caregiver clinging relentlessly onto a life that defied all odds and logic.
Never again will I hear the rattle of his walker around our house, or the rhythm of our oxygen concentrator, or see the lights of his bedroom flicker on before dawn. And it all sank in, an excruciating pain one can never be prepared for.
But if I were to truly cherish and observe the legacy that he left behind, a gift of invincible hope and resilience, then let me channel the immeasurable depths of grief into a capacity for gratitude and the momentum for action.
Just four weeks after my father left us, it was as if our own ordeal had portended a tragic, commonplace narrative that would touch millions of families across the world. COVID-19 is disease that exacts its greatest toll on the most vulnerable – people who resemble my father. And as the pandemic breached borders and bypassed all containment measures struggling to keep up with an evolving pathogen, images of makeshift hospitals, overtaxed clinics, and healthcare workers fighting to save lives with dwindling supplies emerged from all corners. By mid-March, a once seemingly far-fetched idea of national lock-downs had shaken communities close and far.
As Weimen and I wondered how we can help, support from our bigger family across the Pacific Ocean rolled in. With decades of experience in manufacturing, our family is stepping up to help fight against COVID19 by joining the production line for a vital item: masks.
Since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic in China, our family has been on the front-lines of PPE production as an original manufacturer of disposable masks and KN95 grade masks. Our ability to swiftly re-purpose our equipment and production lines draws from decades of manufacturing experience as a key textile player in the city of Zhongshan, Guangdong. We take great effort in choosing the highest grade material possible, as we personally oversee our production lines to ensure quality and consistency. To date, Haochen Manufacturing has bolstered its production to a capacity of 100,000 KN95 masks per day and 250,000 disposable masks per day. Our masks have supplied essential workers in China across construction, industrial, and logistics sectors for the past three months.
As the pandemic turned towards Europe and the United States, our family has one goal in mind – help equip as many people as possible with affordable, made-to-standard masks, especially our essential workers who still report to their shifts everyday to keep our society running. With the necessary certifications secured, we are looking to make every difference we can, one mask at a time, to help ease the PPE shortage and contain the spread of COVID-19. The disease knows no borders, and neither should the tools that can carry us through. Please see our care inventory to see the products available.