educating Malawi’s young people on COVID-19 prevention and introduced a face mask production project. Programme Coordinator Symon Chibaka has shared their progress in this report.

Children in the Wilderness (CITW), a non-profit organisation run in Malawi by Central African Wilderness Safaris that promotes and facilitates sustainable conservation through education in Malawi, have been educating Malawi’s young people on COVID-19 prevention and introduced a face mask production project. Programme Coordinator Symon Chibaka has shared their progress in this report.

Hand washing as one of the means of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 was explained, and demonstrated to the children and youth sometime in May this year. One of the health workers based in the community together with the Eco-Teachers from the area emphasised about the importance of hand washing at all times. By August, the children and the youth have demonstrated that hand washing was now part of their day to day life. Any time they meet for any Eco-Club activity, one could see that the first thing they do is to run to the Tippy-Taps and wash their hands. Before they leave the meeting place, they also run to the Tippy-taps and wash their hands.

After achieving the hand washing, the following lesson was on the importance of wearing a face mask. In June and July this year, local Government officials and other social organisations had distributed some face masks to a good number of people in the communities. Most of the masks were disposable masks. Few days later, the masks started to be noticed as an environmental issue, as the disposed masks were being seen all over in the rubbish pits in the villages. Little children could be seen picking and wearing the disposed masks back to their homes. The need to have washable face masks for all came about. When Eco-teachers raised the concern, CITW decided to support the ideas of washable face masks for all.

The project “Come and make your own face mask” was launched on 7th of August at Nanthomba Primary School, for the Southern (Liwonde) zone. The launch included training Eco-Mentors (teachers) about basic skills in designing and sewing face masks. Mrs. Mapunda, a trained needlework teacher from Nanthomba Primary schools led the training session.

From the first session, cutting a design and sewing the mask was taking over two hours. Some teachers suggested that it was too much time. A suggestion of using a sewing machine in finishing the sewing work was put in place as more people from the villages would be coming for the masks. Nanthomba Primary School Head Teacher agreed to release one of their sewing machine to help.

Teacher training was followed by a mothers’ session. A selection of mothers were invited for the launch event. It was quickly realised that mothers needed the face masks most. The rules by the local health centres includes: “No face mask, no access to any health service.” If a mother has no face mask, she would not get any medical attention that she may require for herself or her children.

Ten mothers were invited for the launch event and each of them went home with their own face mask.

The project hopes that members of the community would come to the centre and choose their own design from the available list of face masks. Mrs. Mapunda and the Eco-Mentors, would then help them with the cutting of the materials, make some primary stitches, and finally help them by sewing it on a sewing machine. The whole process should then take about 40 minutes only, a much better timescale!

CITW would like to thank Ian Strange and his wife Paddy who live in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, near London UK. Part of their donation has made it possible for CITW Malawi to buy the cloth material and all other tools, which were needed for the launch of the project. CITW Malawi would like to share this project to more well-wishers who would be interested in supporting and donating to the project so it can reach even more people.

To learn more about Children in the Wilderness, take a look at their page here

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