How Goodbye Malaria not only found a way to help curb the spread of COVID-19 but empower those in need in these difficult times.
Johannesburg, South Africa (13 August 2020) – When Bonnie Bonisiwe, a seamstress from Lorentzville, Johannesburg, was offered the opportunity to produce face masks for Goodbye Malaria, she could once again afford her rent and could put some much-needed food on her family’s table. As the lockdown had not been easy for everyone, she was also able to empower those in her community by extending this opportunity to three other seamstresses.
Now, Bonnie and her dream team of seamstresses have produced over 7 500 masks to sustain their livelihoods and make a difference in helping fight back against the spread of COVID-19. The masks that Bonnie and her team sewed together formed part of Goodbye Malaria’s drive to curb the spread of COVID-19, which facilitated the production and distribution of face masks for consumers to purchase via its online store.
“When I received a call to ask whether I would be able to make masks, I took the opportunity with hands open, because I wasn’t working at the time. I used to make an income through sewing; people knew that I was a tailor, so they would bring me their stuff to mend,” said Bonnie.
And Bonnie never disappointed. She gathered her fellow seamstresses, sourced extra sewing machines and got to work, sewing all through the nights to reach her production deadlines despite the restrictions of the level 5 lockdown.
“We always delivered on time and were proud to do it,” said Bonnie.
Fortunately, Bonnie and her team were facilitated by a local manufacturer, Koop, which is situated nearby at Victoria Yards, who supplied materials that were already cut to size including the fabrics and the elastics. All team Bonnie needed to do was sew it all together, which was still no easy task considering the amount they were to produce.
Kim Lazarus from Goodbye Malaria says, “We realised that there would be a great need and demand for fabric masks as medical masks needed to be prioritised for our healthcare workers on the front line. So we decided to amplify the good work we do by pivoting our existing network of suppliers, crafters and communities to manufacture washable and reusable Shwe Shwe face masks. Bonnie and her seamstresses are a perfect example of the kind of local talent and skill that was perfectly positioned to meet this need.”
How do they do this? Goodbye Malaria is an organisation that traditionally raises money for its malaria elimination programmes by selling unique and stylish products on its online store. By purchasing masks on the store, all proceeds allow the organisation to manufacture additional masks for distribution to vulnerable communities in South Africa through the Goodbye Malaria mask initiative, with over 16 000 donation masks distributed to date.
These face masks are being facilitated in both Johannesburg and Cape Town by local crafters like Bonnie and her team. It is these small sewing initiatives that traditionally produce merchandise for the Goodbye Malaria retail stores and its online shop. Face masks production was a natural new direction for them to fulfil.
Over and above her ability to make ends meet in extremely challenging times, Bonnie was proud to be a part of this initiative.
“For me to know that I played a part in protecting people from this virus means a lot to me. I also got to make a difference in my team and my family’s lives.”
Goodbye Malaria partners with local crafters across the country just like Bonnie to produce a variety of stylish merchandise that will not only look good on you, but proceeds go towards a good cause. Visit the Goodbye Malaria shop now and pay it forward.