By the power of YouTube, Thai monks make DIY safety gear

Images of monks wearing face shields circulated on several Thai news outlets such as PPTV HD, The Standard and One 31.
Images of monks wearing face shields circulated on several Thai news outlets such as PPTV HD, The Standard and One 31.

In saffron robes, they walked in single file, their feet bare. In their hands, their alms bowls. Across their faces, handmade face shields crafted in the ancient tradition of DIY YouTube videos.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, which this morning saw another 127 cases and one death reported, everyone is adapting to a new normal to survive, including the Buddhist monks at Matchantikaram Temple in Nonthaburi province. 

Photos and videos of the monks collecting morning alms have been going viral online since yesterday with several television news outlets highlighting their safety- and fashion-conscious walk through the neighborhood wearing face shields to deter infection.  Their snug cloth face masks are even the right shade of orange.

“We learned from YouTube and made them three days ago,” Phra Maha Somkiat Yannasuttho told The Standard. “I asked a parishioner to go out and buy transparent sheets, sponges and rubber bands, then we stapled them all together.”

Thailand has now officially reported 1,651 cases and 10 deaths since January.

“I wore a face mask, and I could barely breathe,” another monk said. “Then I did more research and found that droplets can enter the eyes too, so I made the face shield.”

The widely shared story brought praise for the crafty monks and their creativity, while others expressed concern that they still go out barefoot to receive food.

“I want an exemption that allows the monks to be able to wear shoes while receiving alms because the roads are dirty and it poses risks to them getting injured and infected,” Facebook user Patcharee Na Rangsee wrote.

Many also suggested that maybe the monks should do what many others are doing to stay fed: order from delivery services.

“Would it cause drama if I suggested that they should avoid going out during these times? Whoever wants to offer alms should make it via a food delivery app already,” user Anan Jaikhumkao wrote.


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