We have been so inspired and uplifted to hear about all that our artisan partners in Africa are doing to help their local communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Although so far Africa has been fortunate to have lower rates of infection, many communities are braced for much worse if larger waves of the virus affect them. Local clinics and hospitals have limited access to supplies, and even basic preventative items such as hand washing soap and protective gear can be scarce.
Katundu group in Malawi, who make incredible lighting fixtures and beaded pillows, have embarked on an ambitious plan for their island community of Likoma. Despite the precariousness of their situation as one of the poorest nations in the world, the artisans have continued to work through the economic shutdown by building hand washing (with a goal of 1500!), sewing face masks for health clinic workers and for the broader community, and working to raise funds for soap and for basic materials for their local clinics.
Tribal Textiles, with their motto “Small Business, Big Heart,” in northern Zambia, are using their skills to create hundreds of masks which they are sending to clinics and hospitals all across the nation. So far, they have made and shipped over 2000 masks, and continue to produce more at an amazing rate.
Both communities are struggling immensely under the weight of quarantine and economic shutdown. The majority of people in Malawi and Zambia rely on paychecks that are day by day, and only cover basic needs. There is also great fear that coronavirus could be just arriving in these remote locations, and that they severely lack the capacity to manage a bad outbreak. Nevertheless, they are filled will optimism and pride to be doing whatever they can to support their communities, and they are truly an inspiration and a bright light during these dark circumstances. Hats off to our friends at Katundu and Tribal! We are behind you!