As the coronavirus pandemic ravages Iran, home to the Mideast´s worst outbreak, a women´s group hopes to empower its members by helping them make and sell face masks. The organization called “Bavar,” or “Belief” in Farsi, formed in 2016, allowing women looking for work to make handicrafts with donated sewing machines. It gave widows and others a way to earn cash in a country whose anemic economy only worsened since, two years later, President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Sara Chartabian, the founder of Bavar, said the group tries to teach women to be self-sufficient as unemployment and inflation remain high. “We teach them fishing instead of giving them a fish,” Chartabian said. The pandemic, however, has seen the demand for handicrafts drop. Iran has 1.1 million reported cases of the virus, with 800,000 recoveries and over 51,000 deaths – with officials acknowledging the true toll could be far higher. Meanwhile, the women in need still had to earn money to support their families. So the women at Bavar decided to begin making cloth face masks. Today, some 50 women sit with their sewing machines, creating two-ply cloth masks. A third layer can be added with material sold in local pharmacies.