COVID-19: Big problem, smart solution: face masks for everyone! Nearly 10,000 masks produced (in all sizes)!
We are on Twitter at @MasksAfrican, on Instagram: @africamasks ; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/africanmasks/ ; on Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/company/african-masks
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COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, threatening our health and livelihoods. The world’s best health systems are overwhelmed. In Africa, COVID-19 could be even more devastating with fewer medical staff, protective equipment and infrastructure. But in many African countries COVID-19 cases are limited so far and governments are taking swift action to stem the spread. Many communities have started to step up their own efforts for example in producing protective equipment in innovative ways. With your help, we can bring this to scale and we can slow the contagion. 
Big problem, smart solution: face masks for everyone
Working in partnership with communities, we want to make as many cloth masks locally as we can and distribute them for free to people who cannot afford them. This will help people to protect themselves.
Cloth masks offer some protection – especially if everyone starts wearing them. Masks are gaining traction around the world to slow the contagion. In the African context, the local production of face masks also has an empowering effect on women who traditionally do most of the tailoring.
What we are doing now: MASKS FOR KIDS!
We have already produced nearly 10,000 masks in Benin, DRC, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.
Now, we are doing masks for children in Goma (DRC) and Nairobi (Kenya), as mask-wearing is compulsory in these locations.
We want masks that fit the children well and will be doing new kid size masks.
How you can help
Give US$5 and we can provide at least 5 masks to children.
Give US$50 and we can provide at least50 masks to children.
Give US$100 and we can provide at least 100 masks to children.
OUR WORK SO FAR
As of 25 May, Nigeria has 7,839 confirmed cases, including in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.
With Women Africa (www.womenafrica.org ), we already distributed 330 masks to women traders and elderly women in informal settlements in Bwari Area Council, in Abuja. We are currently producing an additional 500 masks.
As of 25 May, Kenya had 1,214 confirmed cases, most of them located in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
The Kenyan government demanded all people to wear masks when visiting supermarkets, markets and while using public transport. People risk prison if they are found not to be wearing masks.
To date, 2105 masks have been distributed in Nairobi. The Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders (CGHRD Kenya) and the Kitisuru Citizen Forum - two groups working with local communities- have handed out our Tenge Vuli masks in Mathare, an informal settlement in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, and to traders in Kangemi market, also in Nairobi. We first kitted out our partners at CGHRD Kenya and the Kitisuru Citizen Forum before they went to distribute the masks.
As of 25 May, Benin had 195 confirmed cases.
In partnership with the Foundation Reine Hangbe, we financed 1,500 cloth masks that were distributed to vulnerable women and girls traders in Porto-Novo, the capital of Benin, Calavi and Pahou. The fabric for the masks was collected from and cut by members and friends of Fondation Reine Hangbe, for its campaign “Masques pour tous et pour toutes” (Masks for he and she). (See update below for pictures of production and distribution ). The Fondation is currently producing an additional 1,500 masks.
As of 25 May, Senegal has 3,047 confirmed cases, most of them located in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
- 1,000 masks have been distributed in two locations in Dakar with a high number of cases. Volunteers from an Amnesty International local group in Ouakam and activists from Y en a Marre, a prominent youth movement, in Pikine distributed masks to market sellers and vulnerable groups. We first kitted out our partners with masks before they went to distribute them.
IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)
We have produced 500 masks in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, which will soon be distributed by Filimbi, a youth-led civil society movement.
We also provided 500 masks to Goma Actif, a local citizen initiative that has identified vulnerable groups for the distribution of masks in Goma in Eastern DRC and created a separate fundraiser as well though which we could provide 1,000 additional masks. Check our separate fundraiser (in French) for DRC here for updates: https://www.gofundme.com/f/masques-en-afriquerdc
They have two layers of fabric. Between the two layers, there is a filter pocket which can be filled with a filtering material with a flexible and adjustable nose bridge. The masks are washable and can be re-used. They are modelled on the following sewing pattern approved by a clinic in Canada (https://www.gfclinic.com/approved-pattern-info-for-homemade-masks/ ).
In Kenya, the masks are made by the Kenyan fashion house Tenge Vuli, and in Nigeria, Senegal and DRC by local tailors.
This is a non-profit venture and your contributions will pay for the masks at cost, covering the material and the work of the tailors.
Other ways you can help
1. Help us spread the word! Use this link to share on social media and email: https://www.gofundme.com/f/masks-in-africa
2. Make masks for yourself and your loved ones and wear them when you go out.
3. Tell your friends and family to wear masks and wash them daily.
Who we are
African Masks: an initiative to raise awareness around cloth masks and distribute them to those who need them most in Africa. It was kickstarted by Emilie Serralta, who has researched and campaigned on issues in Africa for the past 20 years for organisations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and Global Witness. She sits on the Advisory Board of Women Africa, our partner in Nigeria.
On Twitter: @masksafrican
On Instagram: @africamasks
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/africanmasks/
Women Initiative for Leadership Strategy and Innovation in Africa (Women Africa) is a non-profit organization that is focused on promoting gender equality and the broadest participation of women and girls in the leadership space through innovative means. Women Africa inspires African women to stand up for and, take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors.
Fondation Reine Hangbe
Fondation Reine Hangbe is a non-profit based in Benin and working for a society without violence and discrimination against women.
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fondation-Reine-Hangbe-161790946912/
On Twitter: @InfoReineHangbe
Tenge Vuli (Kenya): TengeVuli is a small family-owned company that is passionate about making innovative products integrating African fabric, while bringing about positive social change. The TengeVuli team consists mainly of young Kenyans from underprivileged backgrounds who are the brains and hands behind the products. TengeVuli was founded by the couple David Wandere and Isabelle Peter.
Tengevuli @ Instagram
Tengevuli @ facebook
Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders – Kenya – (CGHRD – Kenya): The Coalition is a Social Movement of Grassroots Social Justice Activists and Grassroots Human Rights Defenders who have come together to offer solidarity among themselves and also have rapid response in cases of threats and rapid action on cases of human rights violations. It is led by Rachael Mwikali, an African Feminist, who is passionate about gender justice, Human Rights Defending and grassroots activism and who won the “Lobbyist for change” Award in 2016.
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cghrdkenya
On Twitter: @rachaelmwiks
Cloth masks are not 100% effective but they can both help stop droplets containing the virus being spread around, by containing the cough or sneeze in the mask, or reducing the droplets/virus inhaled by people nearby, if they are wearing masks. See: “Covid-19 can be spread in tiny droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they cough. A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets. These particles can land on other people, clothing and surfaces around them (…). See BBC, 17 March 2020, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200317-covid-19-how-long-does-the-coronavirus-last-on-surfaces?
- Dan Fahey
- Lucy Harrison
- Duncan Wise
- Sophie Henderson
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