One of the things that attracted Dr Larissa Wale to her work with Monash Health Community’s Refugee Health and Wellbeing team is the diversity of the employees and patients. As the COVID-19 situation evolved, she noticed the team changing from being a colourful group with chats and smiles in the corridors, to surgical masks and monochrome scrubs. Understandably, people were adapting to the changes COVID-19 had brought with it. “Our gorgeous, eclectic group had turned as grey as the Melbourne sky, and the gloom felt like it was moving indoors,” said Dr Wale.
She decided to take a leaf out of Abdul’s book, a Refugee volunteer in Community, and ‘not to give up but to give back’. As her gift to the team, Dr Wale has created a unique Community couture line of colourful scrubs!
The fabric has been sourced from various places, but Dr Wale’s favourite is fabric provided by her colleagues. They are special because of the backstories her colleagues have shared which include gifts of African wax prints, projects that never quite got going, mementoes from overseas trips, totems, and hobbies. Dr Wale also admitted to finding metres of stored materials and other fabric remnants from her own collection of ‘great ideas’ that never became a reality. “My house looks like a sewing factory but one of the advantages of lockdown is you are almost guaranteed no one will visit and judge your cleaning!” she said.
Dr Wale has also made triple layer cotton reusable masks for her colleagues in non-clinical areas. She has created them with patterned fabric on one side and plain fabric on the other as she’s not sure that “everyone is keen on these bright creations.”
Dr Wale is looking forward to a time when we can “wash and fold our scrubs, pack them away, don our ‘civilian’ gear and reapply lipstick!”