Uganda: Refugees prevent the spread of COVID-19 with homemade masks

 In the eastern African country of Uganda, where the spread of COVID-19 continues, AAR Japan held a mask-making workshop to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a South Sudanese refugee camp, located in the north of the country.

Refugee settlement leaders wearing their handmade masks. The right is AAR staff (August 2020, Palolinha settlement)

In Uganda, the demand for masks has upsurged and the price of masks has rocketed, making it difficult for refugees to buy them. A mask-making workshop was held using materials such as cloth and string available in the refugee settlements. For the workshop, we invited an external Ugandan instructor to teach the leaders of the refugee settlements how to make the masks. By teaching the leaders, it is hoped that many refugee residents will also become more aware of the importance of infection prevention and the ways to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The instructor checking each mask

Here are some comments from the participants.

"Thanks for the workshop, we no longer need to buy expensive disposable masks. Now we can make and sell our own masks and make a living from them."

"When we arrived in Uganda from South Sudan, we were upset that we had to be quarantined and isolate ourselves, but after listening to the explanation about COVID-19, I understood how important it is. I would like to convey the importance of quarantine to the newcomers from South Sudan when they arrive in Uganda.”

This indicates that awareness of infection prevention is increasing through the course.

Using pattern paper to cut out mask fabrics from colorful fabrics.

Also, AAR is distributing masks, soap, and other hygiene products, and installing water tanks for washing hands in schools in refugee settlements, as well as conducting hygiene awareness-raising activities to provide information and preventive measures of COVID-19. We will continue our efforts to protect the health of refugees from South Sudan, who are placed in a vulnerable position in society.

MIYAZAKI from office in Uganda
Stationed in the Uganda office since October 2019. He majored in education at the university. After graduation, sent to the Republic of Malawi as a science teacher for the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). After that, he completed a postgraduate degree in Education Development in the UK, then joined AAR. Born and raised in Tokushima Prefecture.
*Profile is at the time the article was published.

Japanese-English translation by Saori Fujiwara
English editing by Yui Hirade