Winding down our Volunteer Group: South Africa Face Mask Initiative

Face masks are now more and more available. From shops and also from the government supplying it to people who need it. Our group members are starting to go back to work. And we have run out of funds and materials to make more masks to give away.
So I am winding up the group.

We have now stopped taking new “orders” for free masks. The unsung heroes I want to recognize are the huge group of volunteers who started the South African Face Mask Initiative. We started this initiative on 23 March this year. Back then people were still arguing about whether homemade and cloth face masks are a good idea! Yes, 23 March now feels like a different country.

Volunteers Countrywide

Since she had the knowledge of sewing and all the equipment in her sewing school, lots of old students, and good contacts in the sewing industry, she decided to start making masks for people working on the front lines of the fight against the virus.

She asked for volunteers (by means of a Facebook group), and built up a team of over 150 sewers country-wide. They have been donating their time and money to make masks ever since. And they are still at it!  Often using their own materials, and sometimes getting materials donated

A Huge Need For Face Masks

Once they started spreading the word that they would make and donate cloth masks to people working on the front-lines, word spread fast. 

Over 36 000 masks made and given away

As of 17 May, we have made and donated 36 717 masks. 

These masks have gone to people on the front-lines of the fight against the virus. Nurses, caregivers in old-age homes, police officers, the Army, the Navy, individual doctors, hospitals, Feeding Schemes, NGOs, etc.

Different Mask Designs

Initially Amanda experimented with different mask designs. She kept on simplifying the design so it can be easy and fast to make. She also kept on reading to understand what mask design would give the best protection.

Then she gave the design to her volunteers. So that today they are all using a fast, simple, smart mask design.

Some of the challenges

Some of the challenges Amanda and her team faced were things like getting more materials under the lock-down. And also getting cut material to volunteer sewers, and then picking up the completed masks, so as to speed up the work. She arranged the proper documentation to be able to move around under lock-down, and made many new friends at different road-blocks! 

Additional information

This was her message on day 1: “Sewers Unite!!!! This is not a BUY or SELL GROUP. Every other Country has run out of Face Masks for their Medical personnel and the general Public. We all know that homemade fabric masks are not N95, but it can help with the spread from person to person. Lets Preempt this shortage and as Sewing People start early and start making them. Please share this as far and wide as you can. Lets get together and flatten the curve!!!

This was her message earlier this week when they went over 37 000 masks made and given away: “I am completely BLOWN AWAY by our numbers. I am Grateful and So So Humbled by all the people who registered and are actively sewing for the SA Face Mask Initiative. 

Also a big thank you to all my Coordinators You guys Rock!!!

Western Province = 19 764 masks delivered
Gauteng = 7 272 masks delivered
Eastern Cape = 1 304 masks delivered
KZN = 4 653 masks delivered
Limpopo = 2 039 masks delivered
North West = 780 masks delivered
Northern Cape = 440 masks delivered
Free state = 315 masks delivered
Mpumalanga = 150 masks delivered

Total masks delivered = 36 717

If you are not yet part of this AWESOME Initiative please register now below and help us help others. If you have registered but we have somehow not contacted you yet but you would like your totals of free masks to be thrown into our Huge Pile Please contact me Amanda Badenhorst.

Here is a link to the South Africa Face Mask Initiative on Facebook: