As you may know, our Maridadi Skills class has been working on beading and then sewing them into the flip flops with Teacher George. Our Founder has known George for almost 8 years now and with his talent and skills in sewing and shoe making, he became the teacher for Maridadi Skills in 2018. Since then, Teacher George, of George's Sandals in Kibera, has been teaching beading and sewing skills to the ladies in the community so they can work on their own using their new skills to make an income for their family.
With COVID-19 having changed daily routines around the world with social distancing, curfews/stay at home orders, and postponing gatherings, we had to postpone all of our gathering activities and classes (Girls Empowerment, Women's Empowerment, and our Maridadi Skills). The COVID-19 outbreak also created a mass interest in face masks and gloves. Just like in other places around the world, there is a serious shortage of such supplies in Kenya too. The shops throughout Kibera don't carry masks since it is not a usual item to have in stock so the masks that may have been around in communities just outside of Kibera are already gone.
Some of our piki driver (motorbike) friends that serve the project for deliveries and transport from time to time even shared that they were lucky to find the last few at the corner Pharmacy a few blocks outside of Kibera. Sadly, they were selling for nearly $5 per mask (paper disposables) and now there are no more.
Our concerns continued to rise for our community and girls! In a community where social distancing is already a challenge due to pure density with a lack of running water for handwashing, our hearts swirled with worry.
So, Angaza has the best skills teacher in the whole country of Kenya, the sewing machines for class, some thread material, scissors, measuring tapes, marking chalks, and all the goodies for the skills class....... just no fabric since we were working with the beading and shoes being sewn. So.... with the help of some of our friends and family in the United States, we were able to get some additional thread, good fabrics and some additional barrier type material to start making our own masks for our local project support team and the women and girls we serve! Within 30 minutes of the day starting, we quickly re-purposed our project space. George was trying different mask patterns we received, making the different ones to quickly learn which seemed best.
Due to the calls for social distancing by the Kenya MOH and our need to support the ask for no gatherings, we are not able to bring in the ladies to help with the sewing at this time. Instead, Teacher George and Teacher Bernard from George's shoe shop are in Angaza making all the masks that we can make with the materials we are able to get. George lives right next door to our project space (in the same compound area so.... curfew is not an issue there). With it being only George and Bernard who live in the compound and being the ones conducting the mask making, we are making masks tonight with our first batch of new materials from friends and family.
By morning, we hope to have the first 50 done to begin issuing with some tips and pointers from the CDC and KE MOH to follow on using these home made masks. In a situation where there are no masks available with a lack of running water, having something to protect others is important over nothing at all (we hope). Moments ago, we received amazing support from family and friends to get more material again tomorrow to continue the mask production. After all of our girls (Scholars and Empowerment), ladies in Women's Empowerment and Maridadi Skills, and our project support team have received masks, we will continue to make as many as we can for their families to also receive one and then keep giving them away in the community until we run out of materials!
Thank you so much to our friends and family for providing the materials! If you would like to be part of this re-purposed project space and provide materials for us to keep on making masks, please feel welcome to contribute by clicking the "Get Involved" tab on our website home page, then scroll over to "Give Now" and click the donate button under that. The Angaza Project will issue you an organization receipt! Thank you! https://www.theangazaproject.org/get-involved
(George demonstrating the first attempt on the first pattern)
(Our Teacher's children who are with our Teacher, holding our first batch of materials)