Emaswati mix charity with business in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic

As the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the Kingdom of Eswatini, pockets of civilians are taking a stand and finding ways to aid the government in providing protective gear for citizens.

With a partial lockdown underway in the nation, there is a dire need for citizens to equip themselves everyday as certain businesses remain functioning.

Fast food franchises are still open and even low-risk non-essential service personnel are being permitted to work in the midst of the pandemic.

A mask and bottle of hand sanitiser made by Girl Boss SA, intended to be sold to the Eswatini community. Photo: Provided.

Nonhle Matsebula (25), the CEO of Girl Boss SA, an organisation that seeks to uplift and empower the African girl-child, is part of those who seeks to make a difference by selling reusable masks and hand sanitizers.

Matsebula works in a team of three members, with Gino Dias (27) and Lionel Katemo (28), and say they have taken this initiative as, “a form of responsibility to excel [in implementing] safety and prevent the spread of the virus, especially amongst  the youth.”

Having seen the casual attitude the youth in the country have had towards Covid-19, Matsebula told Wits Vuvuzela, “It became important to spread responsibility among the youth and those who are able to play a crucial role in securing the community.”

Due to the lockdown putting a halt to many jobs, Matsebula said, “We had to start something that would generate income so we could pay the people who are supplying or manufacturing for their labour.”

Girl Boss does not have the resources to make protective gear and donate them to the public, hence every mask and bottle of sanitizer is purchased at a fee.

Stfombo Dlamini (22), an aspiring seamstress, who was a waitress at The Milin until the partial lockdown and has since been at home with nothing to do and upon the request of Matsebula, she is now has to sew 80 masks in three days.

“It was intimidating, especially since it was my first time ever making masks,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela, “but I was very excited, I was really bored at home and I was up for the challenge.”

Using the World Health Organisation’s guidelines and YouTube videos, Dlamini managed to produce 60 masks within 48 hours before running out of elastic.

In the near future, Matsebula hopes to collaborate with corporate businesses and other essential services personnel in Mbabane and Ezulwini to provide their staff with protective gear until the pandemic comes to an end.

On the other side of town, Youth with a Mission (YWAM Eswatini), a Christian missionary community based in Mbabane also came together to make reusable face masks for members of the surrounding community.

Ane Duarte, a member of YWAM, said, “We felt we needed to help the vulnerable and those frequently exposed in the community we minister in, especially the widows, by providing masks for theirs and others protection,” Duarte said. “We felt this would be a tangible way to express God’s love and concern for them.”

Despite none of the YWAM members being professionals, they collected materials amongst themselves, put their heads together and proceeded to make the masks. Over 200 masks were produced and there would have been more but they ran out of fabric and elastic. After sealing them in plastic, YWAM distributed them in the community.

Duarte told Wits Vuvuzela, “We went door to door to people we had relationships with and we also gave them [masks] to people who were waiting for transport at the bus stops. We have given 163 people masks.”

As of Friday April 17, 2020, Eswatini had recorded 17 cases of Covid-19, one death and eight recoveries.

FEATURED IMAGE: Reusable masks made by aids of Girl Boss SA. Photo: Provided.


Wits Vuvuzela, COVID19: Eswatini lockdown extended with relaxed regulations, 16 April 2020

Wits Vuvuzela, COVID19: Couple stitch reusable face masks for donation, 15 April 2020