COVID19: 5000 Masks & Counting!

Nkwenda Center Just Made 5000 Masks to Protect Against COVID-19! 

Read more to see how a global team got it done. 

CLICK HERE if you want the pattern and directions in Swahili.

The team inside this building (above) – the Nkwenda Vocation and Farmer Training Center in Karagwe, Tanzania,  just made 5,000 protective masks! Their efforts are the result of good people across the globe who pulled together to protect Tanzania from COVID-19. Read more to learn how a global team helped it happen.  

Ms. Anita Mills, artist and friend of Jan Hansen (ETI), posted on social media how she was making masks to help protect healthcare professionals in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jan asked Anita if any masks could be sent to Karagwe. But, instead of sending masks, Anita suggested that ETI connect with the Masks Now Coalition and send the MasksNow pattern and directions to Karagwe. Sewists in Tanzania could make their own.

ETI connected with MasksNow.

Ms. Cequinne Sky (MasksNow) and Ms. Jodi Murray (Created for Crisis) provided a high-quality, approved pattern for masks to help protect front-line workers in the U.S. during COVID-19.

ETI friend, Ms. Janeth Gabagambi led us to Mr. Barnabas Salim – a Tanzanian-born tailor in the U.S., who translated the directions into Swahili. ETI Advisor and Liaison, Dr. Gracious Msuya provided further editing and direction.

With permission, ETI removed Rosie and other graphics from the pattern to reduce file size, and emailed the pattern along with the directions in Swahili to our partners in Karagwe, Tanzania.

Bishop Benson Bagonza and General Secretary, Rev. Yoram Karusya saw the value of the masks, and as heads of the ELCT, Karagwe Diocese, got behind the idea.

Ms. Linda Mambo, Planning Officer for the Karagwe Diocese (KAD) grabbed onto the task and approached Rev. Muberwa Buchwechwe, Head of the Nkwenda Vocation and Farmer Training Center to make masks.

Rev. Buchwechwe (TZ) and Barnabas Salim (U.S.) finalized plans and tested prototypes.

Those in the vocational sewing program at the Nkwenda Center (while keeping a safe social distance) are now making masks for front-line workers in remote Tanzania who have little else for protection. 5,000 and counting!

Efforts to make masks are part of ETI’s broad program to assist the people of Karagwe during the pandemic. ETI grants have been awarded to help Karagwe secure hand-washing stations, soap, disinfectant, PPE, education to outlying communities (via radio), food for the afflicted and respirators and ventilators. Click here to see the full plan and proposal. But back to the mask story.

KAD’s Bishop Bagonza and General Secretary, Rev. Yoram Karusya, shared just this week (April 17, 2020) that the Nkwenda Center has now made 5,000 masks! The bottom line is that Tanzanians are working hard to be as prepared as they can for protection against COVID-19.

The pattern and directions were also shared with other nonprofits and others in Minnesota, Kenya and Uganda who in turn, are working to secure PPE and masks for health care professionals and other front-line workers. Do you know someone who needs a pattern and directions in Swahili? Send these.

Many thanks to those who helped make it happen. Your help is saving lives.  THANK YOU!!!

All Sewists at the Nkwenda Center

Rev. Dr. Benson Bagonza – Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, Karagwe Diocese (ELCT/KAD)

Rev. Muberwa BuchwechweHead, Nkwenda Vocation and Farmers Training Center

Ms. Janeth Gabagambi – Owner, Joy Catering, Minnesota

Rev. Yoram Karusya – General Secretary, ELCT/KAD

Ms. Linda MamboPlanning and Development, ELCT/KAD; Tanzania

Ms. Anita MillsArtist, Designer;; North Carolina

Dr. Gracious Msuya – Educator; VP: Advisor, Liaison; Educate Tanzania, Inc., Minnesota

Ms. Jodi MurrayCo-Head, Created for Crisis; North Carolina

Ms. Cequinne Sky – Administrator: #MasksNow National, California

Mr. Barnabas Salim, Mwaiko Designs, Minnesota

“It takes a village to make a mask.”

(l to r) Rev Buchwechwe; Ms. Janeth Gabagambi; Ms. Linda Mambo; Ms. Anita Mills

(l to r) Dr. Gracious Msuya (& daughters); Jodi Murray; Cequinne Sky; Barnabas Salim.

Rev. Dr. Benson Bagonza, Bishop with General Secretary Yoram Karusya, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzanzia, Karagwe Diocese (KAD).

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