The guidelines put in place to slow down the spread of the coronavirus include the mandatory use of face masks. As a result, the mouth and nose covering accessories have become highly demanded products.
Chances are, you can buy cartons of disposable surgical, KF94 and N95 masks every day without feeling the pinch but the most destitute people in rural communities are not as privileged as you are. Some of them are struggling to buy the most affordable, reusable masks available.
In a bid to extend a helping hand to the needy, Gahaya Links partnered with the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center in a project that brought together a hundred women from a number of sewing cooperatives in Kayonza area. With financial support from the Mastercard Foundation, these hardworking women made 40,000 high-quality face masks.
After a three-day intensive training program, the women got busy at the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center. For ten days, the whirring sound of sewing machines breathed life into the center that hadn’t seen much activities since March.
After a successful completion of the project, it was time to donate the locally made basic protective gear to the people. Charity begins at home. Those who put in the work were the first beneficiaries. Each one of them walked home with a dozen masks to be divided among her family members. As usual, when the need to protect families arises, women rise to the occasion.
The distribution of masks was preceded by a word of prayer. Putting God first is the norm among members of these cooperatives.
In her opening remarks, Joy Rwamwenge, the Executive Director of the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center, commended the women for the seamless execution of the project while adhering to the set guidelines. She also took that opportunity to warn those who thought the disease is only prevalent in Kigali and other places far away from their communities. "It is closer to you than you think." She added. She concluded by expressing gratitude to Gahaya Links and the Mastercard Foundation for their valuable contributions.
Janet Nkubana, the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Gahaya Links, stressed the importance of observing the directives issued by the government to minimize the risk of contracting COVID- 19. She also reminded her audience that masks should never be shared. It had come to her attention that sharing masks was normal among friends and family members in the local community. Before she left the stage, she demonstrated the correct way to wear and handle a face mask.
Dushimimana Noheli, the Executive Secretary of Gikaya Cell, where the center is located, oversaw the distribution of the masks and took a minute to create more awareness on the coronavirus pandemic.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Kayonza is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Imigongo Art Center, Silent Hill Hotel, Jambo Beach, Ihema View Campsite and Akagera Rhino Lodge.