Grabouw seamstresses benefit from Ubuntu Cloth Mask initiative | Western Cape Government


Grabouw seamstresses benefit from Ubuntu Cloth Mask initiative

16 July 2020

The Ubuntu Cloth Mask initiative has made it possible for a group of eight seamstresses in Grabouw to earn an income during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through manufacturing a total of 1 500 quality (non-medical) cloth masks, they also help ensuring that vulnerable people can receive free donated masks.

This public-private initiative was established to produce a quality cloth mask and donate free masks to vulnerable people. The partners include Western Cape on Wellness (WoW!), The Health Foundation, Coconut Jazz, the Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN), and community seamstress networks. The partners are dependent on donations, sales and/or orders from the private sector and the public. All proceeds from sales are used to purchase fabric and to pay the community seamstress networks, such as the one based in Grabouw. To date, a total of 2 100 twin-mask packs have been distributed to vulnerable people in the province. The seamstresses are currently manufacturing an additional 4 000 masks for the Ubuntu Cloth Mask project.

Seamstress Nicoleen Snay is part of the Crafting Hope NGO in Grabouw which was recruited in June 2020 to form part of the initiative to manufacture Ubuntu Masks. Each seamstress makes a small profit on masks that are manufactured. Fabric cut outs for masks, quality control, packaging and distribution is managed in partnership with Coconut Jazz.

“We as a group of local seamstresses are grateful for this short-term work opportunity and the exposure for which our business will gain from being part of this initiative to produce cloth masks. Many people in our community have been affected financially by the lockdown, therefore we are thankful to be able to receive a stipend and at the same contributing to the government’s efforts to help preventing people from getting the coronavirus,” says Snay in a factory room at Kleinbegin Elgin Timbers, which she shares with two other seamstresses Euphemia Pietersen and Ivy Gertze.

Snay and her colleagues have been sewing and producing homemade products such as bags, overalls and pillowcases for a few years. Last year, they have also participated in the sewing programme offered by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, which has also temporarily lent them sewing machine. Before lockdown, they sold their products at the town’s market on Saturdays. Therefore, Snay adds that opportunities such as the Ubuntu Cloth Mask initiative makes a difference.

To support the Grabouw seamstresses and other local seamstresses, you can donate to the initiative.

The message is simple: I Protect You! You Protect Me! Be UBUNTU!


Photo captions: Seamstresses Nicoleen Snay, Euphemia Pietersen and Ivy Gertze are manufacturing cloth masks in Grabouw, as part of the Ubuntu Cloth Mask initiative.

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