Smart Girls Uganda CEO Jamila Mayanja (C) and Hope Hub Founder and CEO Aisha Ali (R) hand over a mask and hand sanitizer to a female vendor at Nakasero Market.
Smart Girls Uganda, a not for profit organization, in partnership with Tenge Collections an Afrocentric fashion design house and Hope Hub have distributed masks to vulnerable women in Nakasero Market in a bid to address Covid-19. This was as part of the organizations’ project dubbed ‘Masks 4 All’, an initiative that seeks to avail masks at an affordable cost to the general public while donating to the most vulnerable women in markets, young people in slums, boarders, barracks and refugee centers at no cost.
Jamila Mayanja, the Smart Uganda Project Lead said, “In April, while addressing the nation on Covid-19 for the second time, the President Yoweri Museveni directed that markets remain open as long as the vendors set up camp in them and not move to their homes. Markets tend to be congested and women make up the majority population putting them at a higher risk of contracting the virus because of their day-to-day interaction with people like producers, customers and some of their family members. Through this intervention, Smart Girls designed a reusable three-layer mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer which we are giving to these high at-risk population groups at no cost.”
The project began making masks in March 2020. It employs the youth and women among whom are former sex workers and survivors of Gender Based Violence that had been trained in tailoring before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tenge Afrocentric Fashion House Founder and CEO Daniel Mickoh said, “Through this action, we are looking to scale up and make more protective gear and distribute them all over the country with a target of reaching one million people. We are using the guidance of Uganda police and local leaders to help in the distribution. This process will also include awareness sessions using community radios and public media on how to use the masks and other safety measures when the lock down is lifted,” she added.
Geoffrey Rwakabale, the Town Clerk for Kampala Central Division said, “Masks are and will continue to be an essential service for all, post-lockdown and beyond, as we fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The vulnerable in our communities may not be able to afford them in the mid to long term and it is therefore imperative that organizations offer such initiatives to bridge this gap. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Smart Girl Uganda and all its partners for this initiative and call on other like-minded organizations to work together to help in the prevention and mitigation of the virus.”
Alongside other recommended measures including mass testing and contact tracing, masks will play a vital role in ending lockdown, helping the economy return to normal and avoiding a second wave of the virus.