Masks 4 Malawi

Involved alumni:
Gloria, Dr Priscilla and Weniko before their donation at the Queen Elizabeth Ophthalmology ward

The challenge that the project addresses

On April 2, Malawi recorded its first 3 cases of COVID-19. On 14th April, all the newspapers reported that health workers across the country had put their tools down and demanded that they be adequately protected from infection. Despite the shocking rates of COVID infections and related deaths across the globe; Malawi government had done very little to ensure that health workers were adequately equippedto save lives without risking their own even before any cases were reported. The limited scope of prevention interventions in the communities also meant that the risk of infection is very high for communities; and especially for the health workers who come into contact with hundreds of community members every day. The initiative focuses on reducing the risk of infection for health workers so that they can continue to serve without fear for their own lives by providing masks to the patients they cannot afford to be social distanced from.

What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?

On 13 April, my friends and I (one of them is a doctor) were talking about how best to stay protected and what we could do to keep the people we care about and everyone safe. We thought of making cloth masks that could be given to patients at the hospital; and eventually settled for a prevention pack with soap, hand sanitizer, an information brief and a mask. A few days later I held an online shoe auction to fundraise the first sum of money to help us mobilize. My friend also asked her family abroad to set up a go fund me account to raise more money. We have pooled together our talents and resources to help fellow Malawians access face masks and information about COVID. I especially like that the initiative has brought in so many people with different interest. My friend has gone on to share these response packs at an orphanage. We made our first donation of 300 masks at the Ophthalmology ward of the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre because of the close contact health worker always have with eyesight patients; they cannot afford to social distance. So far we have distributed a total of 1,200 relief packs made from our own donations and well-wishers.

Describe the project's impact

  • Make our health facilities safe for everyone; health workers, patients and caretakers.
  • Reduce risk of infection between patients and health workers; between health workers and their families; and between community members.
  • Remove the stigma of mask wearing by increasing level of awareness and understanding; and access to protective wear such as masks.
  • Increase solidarity amongst Malawians by standing with our frontline responders who are our friends, families and loved ones.